Three weeks after Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced plans to recruit 400 nurses from Ghana as a solution to a chronic nursing shortage, a Government team is being formed to oversee their selection, the Minister of Health said today.
Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic announced that as soon as the West African country is ready for the process to begin, Barbados will have boots on the ground to ensure that those selected meet the most immediate needs of the health care system.
“The Prime Minister has been out of the island for a bit, so I have not
yet spoken to her. I can tell you that from our end, we have started preparations in terms of putting a team together that will be going to Ghana and it is going to be a team comprising of staff from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as well as from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
“As soon as communication is established between the President of Ghana and the Prime Minister, the team is looking to move within a matter of two to three weeks after. So, we are hoping that this would take place during the month of July,” he told journalists:
It was during a state visit by President Nana Akufo-Addo last month that Mottley revealed that she had put in a request for the 400 nurses.
She said: “We have indicated that we are searching for just under 400 nurses. So, it is not a small number and we believe that it is a wonderful opportunity for cooperation between our two countries.”
The bargaining agent for public nurses, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), said that members had no problems with Goverment’s plan to bring nurses from Ghana, suggesting that the recruits could man the planned 24-hour polyclinic service, providing they met certain conditions.
But NUPW acting general secretary Delcia Burke insisted that nurses to be brought into the system must be able to effectively communicate with the average Barbadian and they must undergo the same testing requirements as their local counterparts.
Burke said: “I believe that the nurses from Ghana will sort out this issue with the polyclinics but first we have to be sure that they can speak in a way that the average Barbadian can understand.
“We have to also be sure that they are properly trained, and they would have to do the regional exams that our nurses are required to do. As long as they can meet those three criteria then we have no problem at all.”
Lieutenant Colonel Bostic did not state if the NUPW’s demands would be part of the recruitment criteria, but he explained that due to the multi-faceted nature of the health service, it was important that the West African recruits are proportionately chosen so that all departments can be beneficiaries of the staffing boost.
He said: “The team will facilitate the recruitment process of the nurses because we have to send people there that would be able to verify and certify that the persons who want to come to Barbados to work satisfy our standards.
“We recognise the fact that we are looking at a cross-section of nurses for the geriatric system, for the polyclinics, as well as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Psychiatric Hospital.
“We need to have representatives from those institutions to be part of the selection process.”