Government is on a quest to ensure Barbados has no unemployed nurses before it deploys a team of experts to recruit nurses from Ghana, the Minister of Health and Wellness has promised.
Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, in fact said that before recruiting nurses from the African continent, Government would also look to the Eastern Caribbean for qualified healthcare professionals.
Last month, during bilateral talks between Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo, Mottley made known her intention to recruit just under 400 nurses from Ghana to respond to the country’s chronic nursing shortage.
While the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the Barbados Nurses’ Association (BNA) welcomed the move, General Secretary of the Unity Trade Union (UTU) Senator Caswell Franklyn described the plan as “rushed” and not “adequately thought through”. At the time, he questioned how Government could afford to employ West African healthcare workers when Barbados Community College (BCC) nursing graduates were struggling to find work.
In Ghana, the move was also criticised by some, including the country’s former ambassador to the United Kingdom Victor Smith who said with a 1:1000 nurse to patient ratio, the West African country could not afford to lose its priceless human resources.
While Barbados’ Health Minister said local officials were ready and rearing for its mission to Ghana, he revealed Government would ensure unemployed Barbadian nurses received first pick.
“We are at the moment commencing a process to locate all nurses in Barbados who may not be working at this time. That includes those who graduated from the community college but would not have passed the regional exam. That is to ensure that we facilitate the process for our own people before going elsewhere,” assured Bostic, who said some countries in the CARICOM, would also be given
“We have been advised there are one or two islands in the Eastern Caribbean that may have excess nurses and if we can get some from there, we will go there.”
Of Government’s upcoming mission to Ghana, he added: “We have a team that is already assembled and ready to go to
Ghana as long as we get the word from the Cabinet and the Prime Minister for us to deploy.
“That comprises persons from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Barbados Nurses’ Council,” he said.
Bostic disclosed the mission would be focused on recruiting nurses to service all aspects of the country’s healthcare system along with specialist nurses in areas like gerontology for the district hospitals as well as the psychiatric specialists for the Psychiatric Hospital.
“This is because there are shortages in all areas, so that is why a team was selected in the way it has been selected, comprising both the Ministry and Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It’s because we are looking to recruit so that all aspects of the healthcare system can benefit from the recruitment process,” said Minister Bostic.