Local nurses have been assured that they will not be impacted by the Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation (BERT) Programme. However, they have also been warned by president of the Barbados Nurses’ Association, Joannah Waterman, that this is no reason to be complacent.
The head of the nurses’ body stressed that the assurance given by Prime Minister Mia Mottley does not mean that the nurses could “play the fool”.
“Nurses must not lose the sense of responsibility and accountability and duty to care because they heard that they are not to be touched.
“It does not mean that they are to stay off from work, be absent, we are not going to tolerate absenteeism or slacking off and not delivering care to our patients and clients,” Waterman emphasized.
She told Barbados TODAY that the BNA was extremely concerned about the acute shortages in the sector. Waterman contended that the personnel allocated was not enough to satisfy the vast expansions of medical establishments.
Referring to departments such as the David Thompson Polyclinic, HIV counselling services, adolescent clinics and community mental health, Waterman stressed that the nurses were stretched thin.
“All of the institutions have had expanded departments and increases in services but they have not increased the nursing personnel to match the expansion. That is the biggest problem. Therefore we are not talking about adjusting the books but we are talking about going back to the establishment’s quota and increasing it to match the expanding departments and services,” she reiterated.
As she outlined her concerns about the issues affecting the nursing profession, Waterman disclosed that vexing issue of “sporadic payment” has returned. Last year November, the issue seemed to have been resolved after Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic intervened in the pay crisis involving nurses from the Psychiatric Hospital. However, Waterman indicated that the situation has reverted to its original state.
Describing the situation as “frustrating”, Waterman laid the blame at the “bureaucratic channels” where the process is ‘bottlenecked’.
“It all has to do with the bureaucratic pushing of paper and the people who are pushing the paper . . . they don’t see the people behind the paper. They need to transcend beyond the paperwork and see they are disadvantaging a group of persons who are an essential group of people who have to maintain the health of this nation. Now they have to beg for bus fare; they have to beg for somebody to give them a ride; they have to borrow money for lunch because of this nonpayment of salaries,” Waterman stated.