At a time when the Government says it is desperately seeking to improve the quality of healthcare in Barbados, nurses are complaining that their attempts to improve their skills, through higher education, are being frustrated.
According to NUPW Deputy General Secretary Wayne Walrond, nurses trying to pursue the Diploma in Midwifery and the Bachelor of Science in the General Nursing Course at the Barbados Community College (BCC), have been unable to secure release from work.
“Nurses who have been accepted by the BCC to pursue the general nursing programme commencing September 2, 2019, have been frustrated in their efforts to get the required release from work. This has occurred despite the fact that since 2011, several nurses have been applying to the Ministry of Health repeatedly each year for approved training,” Walrond said.
The trade unionist also raised concerns regarding nurses who have already completed several semesters in the general nursing programme as continuing students, noting that they were now required to re-apply each academic year with no approval to date.
He told Barbados TODAY that nurses are forced to work night shift as a condition to attend BCC nursing training. He contended that Government’s failure to put proper arrangements in place for these nurses would only result in many of them being unable to complete their course of study. Walrond revealed that in some cases the nurses went as far as applying for no-pay study leave, but even those requests were rejected.
“A number of nurses who were accepted to do the Midwifery Course at the BCC had applied for no-pay study leave since they were unsuccessful in obtaining paid leave to attend the programme. Even the no-pay leave arrangement was rejected on the grounds that there was not enough time to grant such approval,” he lamented.
Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic could not be reached for comment
Barbados has been plagued by a chronic shortage of nurses, caused primarily by many of those trained in the field taking up employment opportunities in metropolitan countries. This is compounded by the high failure rate of nurses taking the regional nursing examination. The problem has gotten so bad that the Government is in the process of recruiting 400 nurses from Ghana.
However, Walrond warns that given the myriad issues within the sector, to add further frustration would only result in more nurses leaving for greener pastures.
“The NUPW is of the view that this situation has added to the frustration of Government sector nurses who already have issues with being paid on time and not having a paid upgrade for the job they undertake. The union is concerned that this deep sense of frustration would potentially see a further exodus of nurses from Barbados,” said Walrond.
He further noted, “We appeal to the Ministry of Health and Wellness and relevant agencies of Government to take every urgent action in permitting the nurses to pursue further training for their betterment and that of the country as a whole.”