The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is battling with a shortage of nurses that is affecting the scheduling of some operations.
This was revealed to Barbados TODAY by the hospital’s Acting chief executive officer (CEO) Louise Bobb.
While Bobb acknowledged that the island’s major health institution was hoping to have those vacancies filled, she gave her assurance that emergency surgeries would continue to be carried out.
Responding to several questions posed by Barbados TODAY, Bobb admitted that while there was a nurse shortage it was untrue the QEH was only catering to pregnant women and gunshot emergencies.
“The QEH currently has seven fully functioning operating theatres, one of which is reserved for trauma cases. Reserving an operating theatre for trauma cases allows for all emergent and urgent cases to be facilitated without delay.
“However, due to the relative nursing shortage, the time allotted for elective surgeries has been reduced. The reduction in operating time may delay the wait time for elective surgeries, but we are utilizing an element of triage to ensure that pressing elective surgeries are prioritized,” Bobb said.
“It is anticipated that when these nursing vacancies are filled, we will be able to revert to the standard hours for conducting elective surgical procedures.”
Last month Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced that she had asked Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo to provide 400 nurses to help address the acute shortage in Barbados.
While Bobb disclosed that the QEH was also battling with a shortage of anesthesiologists, she dismissed reports there was a scarcity of doctors.
In fact, she said all the available posts for physicians had been filled.
“Allegations of a shortage of doctors at the QEH are unfounded. Currently the posts allocated for physicians are filled, and in cases where doctors are on leave, these positions continue to be filled by locums to ensure the service offered to the public is not disrupted,” the acting CEO said.
“With reference to anesthesiologists, a few vacancies do exist at the junior and senior levels. However, the Human Resources Department is working to recruit suitably qualified individuals to fill these positions. In the interim, locum anesthesiologists are being engaged to provide anesthetic cover as and when required,” Bobb added.
She also denied reports that the QEH was also short on medication.
Bobb said while “from time to time” some medication would be out of stock that was not the current situation.
“The QEH is not aware of any acute shortage of medications. Periodically, all hospitals experience stock-outs. Stock-outs occur due to the unavailability of drugs by overseas manufacturers due to substantial international demands; delays in the procurement and delivery of stocks by the local supply chain, and in the past, we have had challenges due to limitations of our own cash-flows,” she admitted.
“However, the past five years have seen the QEH significantly improve its mitigation of the stock-out of essential medications.”
Her comments came one day after the Ministry of Health issued a release stating that diabetes and hypertension medication would be again available at Government pharmacies within the next few days.
It came after patients seeking this medication reported they had been unable to fill some prescriptions at the polyclinic pharmacies.