District health clinics must have nurses at all times – PM
This appeal came during a press conference at Cabinet Room yesterday.
Gonsalves, who had made a similar appeal previously, said that he was prompted to speak about the issue, after he learnt of the passing of a two-month-old baby, in the South Rivers community that morning (Monday).
He said he was told by the babyâs mother that when she awoke, she found the baby motionless, following which she went to the clinic. Gonsalves, however, said that when the mother got to the clinic, there was no nurse there, as it was the nurseâs weekend off.
“But a nurse should have been there. The nurse couldnât bring the child back to life, but just in case that the circumstances were such that something could have been required to be doneâ¦,â the Prime Minister stated.
He lamented that in this case, the childâs life may not have been saved or that the absence of the nurse at the clinic contributed to or caused the death of the child, as that is not what the mother said to him.
“Iâm just saying how can you leave the clinic in South Rivers on a weekend without a nurse.â
Gonsalves noted that there is growing trend of nurses not wanting to reside at the district clinics where they are stationed. Admitting that the accommodation at some of the clinics needs to be improved, Gonsalves said in those cases, what is happening is not the fault of the nurses, but the Min-istry and the Government.
“But there are clinics which are well appointed, indeed some have been repaired and after they are repaired, they remain locked up and deteriorate and repair againâ¦,â he added.
He noted that there are some nurses who treat the community nursing service as if it were “a civil servantâs job.â
“You canât close the clinic at 4:30 p.m. or 5 p.m. say you going home because you not staying at the clinicâ¦.â
Furthermore, the Prime Minister said it is not acceptable for a clinic to remain unattended when a nurse has a weekend off.
“That is unacceptable and the management has to answer to that. Now, if you say you canât get any nurse to go, well then we need to review what we are doing, but the fact is this, we must have people there.â
He said that apart from nurses not being on staff, there is also the problem of too many nurses being on study leave.
“Now, I know I am told we have a lot of nurses who are on leave; Iâm not talking about maternity leaveâ¦ but we cannot have a system where nearly one fifth of the nurses are on study leave,â Gonsalves stated.
The Prime Minister disclosed he has spoken to the director general of Finance and Planning to work with the permanent secretaries of the various ministries to draft an arrangement putting administrative guidelines in place, so that only a certain percentage of public servants would be permitted to be on study leave at any one time.
He also noted that he would not cut back on the generosity of the study leave; however, he said that there has to be a balance.(CM)