Government is committed to the appointment of 183 staff nurses who have been acting in their positions for up to ten years, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic has promised.
But he cannot say when scores of acting nurses who have gone months without payment, will receive outstanding monies.
Speaking to reporters at the start of this year’s Pharmacy Week, Bostic revealed the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Civil Service have been working tirelessly to have the nurses’ right to security of tenure upheld.
“There are still concerns about late payments for some people and the fact that a large number of persons have been working for six, seven, eight and up to ten years without being appointed,” Bostic said.
“The Prime Minister had already given approval for those nurses who have done three years’ service or more and who are in good standing, to be appointed and that process is in train at the moment so that most, if not all of those 183 nurses will be appointed shortly.”
The Lieutenant Colonel however said his ministry was not in a position to rectify a situation which has left scores of acting nurses unpaid for months. He however promised the Ministry of the Public Service is working to have the issues addressed.
“Those who are at the bottom of the acting scale cannot be paid until those who they are acting for are paid. It also has to do with personal reports, confidential reports and assessments that have to be done.
“The Prime Minister has assured that a meeting will be held for the various departments and stakeholders so that we can put this thing to rest because this is something that we do not like. We do not like the fact that people are working without being paid,” said Bostic.
During a 15-minute interview, he also revealed that although nurses are back on the job at the Geriatric Hospital, outstanding issues affecting them are yet to be resolved including deteriorating conditions at the Beckles Road, St. Michael facility.
“The issue is concluded to the point that the nurses are all back at work… but the matter is not yet finished, because there are some things that the Minister of Health and the Ministry of Health have to do in order to bring a level of satisfaction for the nurses at those institutions,” said the Lieutenant Colonel.
“The conditions at the district hospital are in need of some serious work and we started the process last year…We do not have all the funds to do all of the work that is required, but the intent is to engage corporate Barbados to come and adopt a ward at each of these hospitals and give some assistance to the state in terms of getting the standards up to where we want them to be and what the nurses and the other staff expect them to be.”
After scores of their colleagues were summoned to the Winston polyclinic to service the controversial 24-hour polyclinic service, Geriatric Hospital staff staged a sickout last Thursday claiming that the remaining staff was not enough to service the hospital. Staff nurses were reportedly even more offended upon hearing the void would likely be filled by nursing assistants, who are less qualified, but this was later denied by the Minister.
“I also assured them that the work being done by nurses in the district hospital is very valued by us in the ministry because we recognise the serious challenges that they have since they are dealing with patients, who, for the most part cannot help themselves and the relationship really between the nurses at the district hospitals who work very hard and are skilled nurses, that relationship is excellent and we do not get any bad or negative reports at all coming from the public in relation to the level of service at the district hospitals,” he said.