As the Government of Barbados prepares to unveil a new comprehensive five-year healthcare plan, the Minister of Health and Wellness has promised strategies to fill personnel shortages and increase the autonomy of nurses.
Addressing a religious service at Christ Church Parish Church on Sunday to mark the start of nurses’ week and International Nurses’ Day on May 12, Minister Ian Gooding-Edghill said the plan will be linked to greater accountability and good governance, as core principles.
“Over the next five years, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will implement a new and comprehensive plan for the delivery of healthcare services in Barbados. Our strategy will be driven by some fundamental principles including financial resources being tagged to pragmatic outcomes, that there be greater professionalism and accountability and good governance,” Gooding-Edghill told the congregants that included other representatives from the Ministry of Health and the nursing fraternity.
He said other fundamental principles at the heart of the plan would include better engagement to encourage long-term public confidence and delivery of timely care which places the patient at the centre of the process and ensures the health services’ fraternity, especially nurses, are well-resourced, supported and valued.
Stating that the government was treating the replenishment of the nursing complement as urgent, the minister said this will partly be done by exploring new markets from which to import nurses, adding to those from Cuba and Ghana.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is yet another reminder that we need to close the staffing gap in the nursing workforce to adequately meet our healthcare needs and demands. The Ministry of Health has prioritised this as an urgent action, and will address this by implementing plans to attract persons to the nursing profession in pursuit of maintaining a suitable nursing workforce over a phased period,” Gooding-Edghill said.
He pointed out that the government was pressing ahead with plans to better equip its nurses to help the country meet its healthcare goals by providing opportunities for more robust education, supported environments and greater levels of autonomy.
“Our aim is to provide a nursing workforce that is diverse and prepared with knowledge and skills to address healthcare issues and overcome current and future barriers affecting workforce capacity. Other initiatives to increase the number of training opportunities for nursing students are presently in the pipeline and discussion with other universities and stakeholders are ongoing,” the minister said.
He added: “The Advanced Nurses’ Practice Register is soon to be expanded to permit increased enrollment, thereby increasing the autonomy of the nurse practitioners. The Ministry of Health will continue to strengthen the capacity and capability within the nursing workforce, empowering and supporting the expansion of the scope of practice, and the role of nurses will ultimately lead to improved patient care,” the minister explained.
Gooding-Edghill said the ministry will work with stakeholders to provide specific leadership programmes for nurses and mid-wives and continue to engage nursing professionals and leaders on healthcare policy.
“The adoption of these measures will support the delivery of new service priorities and needed reforms,” he declared.
The theme of this year’s International Nurses’ Day is Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health. (EJ)