A major nursing shortage is severely impeding the effective functioning of the health care system, General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations, Dennis De Peiza has charged, calling for urgent action.
He urged Government to seek human resources from outside the region sooner rather than later, renewing support for the Prime Minister’s promise to recruit Ghanaian nurses.
In a statement, the CTUSAB boss complained the shortages have crippled key sections of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and blamed the issues on a trickle of graduating nurses from the Barbados Community College.
“CTUSAB has been made aware that the current shortage of critical nurses has constrained the operations of five theatres at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH). Whilst we support the fact that Barbadians and regional nurses must be given priority in any recruitment and employment by the hospital, it is understandable that given the global shortage of nurses which is being experienced, there is need to recruit from abroad.”
He stressed: “The situation at the island’s premier institution is further compounded by the shortage of specialists and critical care nurses.”
The challenges arise amid efforts by the Ministry of Health to expand free health care services with the gradual introduction of 24-hour polyclinics.
During a recent official visit by Ghana’s President Nana Akufor-Addo, Mottley revealed plans to recruit almost 400 nurses to replenish the country’s health care system.
The announcement gained the backing of nurse’s representatives, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA), but was rejected by General Secretary of the Unity Trade Union, Senator Caswell Franklyn, who claimed scores of Barbadian nurses remain unemployed.
Indirectly refuting Senator Franklyn’s claims, DePeiza argued the recruitment decision is now critical and should be done within the parameters of local nursing standards.
“CTUSAB therefore supports Government’s plan to recruit nurses from Ghana, which is in an effort to address the shortage of critical care nurses required at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. This support remains contingent upon the fact that those recruited, must meet the require standards as approved by the Barbados Nursing Council,” he said, while urging that “no effort be spared” in seeking regional nurses first.
But De Peiza acknowledged that global competition driven by international recruiters was bound to attract both graduate and critical care nurses, attracted to the prospect of better pay and perks.
The CTUSAB general secretary said: “As Government moves to ensure the quality of care to be provided, the efficiency of service at the QEH and to offer a 24-hours operation at two of the island’s polyclinics, CTUSAB believes that the time is right for a review of the conditions of service offered to local nurses to be undertaken, so as to make employment in Barbados attractive enough, in an effort to retard and eliminate any threat of the exodus of local nurses.” (KS)