Nurses in Barbados are not opposed to providing their services in a 24-hour environment.
However, they will only do so under the right terms, one of which is an increase in pay, says president of the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) Joanna Waterman.
Talks involving the BNA, their representatives the National Union of Public Workers’ (NUPW), the Ministry of the Civil Service and the Ministry of Health, have reached a stalemate.
Waterman maintained that while nurses were in full support of the 24-hour suggestion, they could not work unless certain requirements were met.
“The current state of the proposal of the 24-hour service in the polyclinic at present is at a stalemate. The professional nurses body wishes to make its position very clear, that the idea of the expanded services to the Barbadian public in order to expand and improve the delivery of care to the public is a very good one,” the BNA president said.
“But the Barbados Nurses Association will only support the proposal with the following demands; that the man power resources be supplied in full in order to cover the rostering; that the amenities needed to support the 24-hour service be provided in the form of security, transportation, rest facilities, material resources and equipment that is adequate for functioning and also there needs to be consideration for remuneration outside, over and above certain hours.
“Now we will always be as a professional body be seeking to fulfill our mission, which is in protection of the welfare of our nurses,” Waterman added.
The 24-hour initiative, which would have seen the Sir Winston Scott Polyclinic in St Michael and the David Thompson Health and Social Services Complex in St John, opened round-the-clock was scheduled to begin last week.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY yesterday, Acting General Secretary of the NUPW Delcia Burke insisted that the current facilities were simply not good enough for a 24-hour service.
“While the NUPW does not want to stop the 24-hour facility, the nurses are also saying that the facilities are not good enough for such a transition,” Burke said, while pointing out that both the polyclinics did not have enough space.
Burke also complained that the Ministry of Health had opted to return the 14 nurses that volunteered for the project, back to their substantive posts at the Geriatric Hospital.
“They said that they were supposed to recruit nurses and I asked them if they had started that process, but they did not give me an answer. They also had 14 nurses from the Geriatric Hospital that had volunteered to go but they have now been sent back,” she explained.
Speaking Sunday night at the Barbados Labour Party’s first anniversary political rally at Carlisle Car Park, Bridgetown, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic defended the Government’s decision to go the route of the 24-hour clinics.
The Minister called on the unions and health workers to let commonsense prevail in the negotiations.
While not disclosing anything further due to the ongoing negotiations, Lt. Col. Bostic asked unions to be cooperative, arguing that the service is critical for the livelihood of ordinary Barbadians.