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Nurses not taking up offers

Nurses not taking up offers

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As the reality of pending unemployment kicks in, the more than 90 nurses who have not been retained by the central government will reconsider the migration opportunities presented to them, Minister of Health Dr Douglas Slater believes.{{more}}

Dr Slater admitted at a press conference last Tuesday that at the moment, the trained nurses have not been jumping at the many opportunities that have been offered by the government for them to work in other Caribbean islands.

Ministry of Health officials are surprised.

“We found it very interesting that most people want to stay home,” Dr Slater said.

He, however, made it clear that the policy of training surplus nurses for export is the government’s policy, and noted that the nurses were aware of the realities when they signed on.

“At the beginning, we had explained to them that we will not be able to employ all of them…I am hearing some rumbling outside as if it is something new. No, it isn’t new. It is a deliberate policy, and they signed on to that, “Dr Slater said.

“The reality is if they want to be employed they have to go overseas,” he said.

He said that while interest in overseas placements has been scanty, interest has increased as the reality hits home.

“What we have noticed is that over the last few weeks, as the reality hits them, they have been coming forward,” he said.

As it stands, 20 nurses have gone off to Barbados, and are already on the job at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados.

Barbados has indicated interest in getting more Vincentian nurses, while Trinidad and Tobago has requested 50; Jamaica is crying out for as many as they can get, while just about a week ago, a request for six nurses came in from Nevis.

Meanwhile, the surplus nurses, whose services should be terminated at the end of this month, are still on the nursing payroll.

A health ministry source told SEARCHLIGHT that even if they are not immediately terminated at the end of this month, they will certainly be before September, given that the next batch of nursing students begins classes on the first Monday in September.

One concern being voiced by the nurses with regard to the regional opportunities, SEARCHLIGHT was told, is that while the packages are considered to be good, they are not significantly more than what is being offered in St Vincent.

However, our source says that nevertheless, the nurses were fully aware of the situation when they took up training because it was clearly spelt out to them.

Dr Slater is expected to meet with the nurses in question today to discuss the matter further.

Dr Slater said that while interest in the invitation from other territories is slow, no interest at all is being shown in the Jamaican call.

He admitted at the press conference, as he did at an earlier function, that the reggae island’s extremely high crime rate may be the main reason for this.

That country’s murder count as at last Monday stood at 687 for the year, while May was the bloodiest in the island’s history, with 197 persons killed.

With regard to the 50 nurses taken into the local nursing service, Dr Slater said that he is informed that they are enough to effectively run the health care system, and it is not just a matter of sticking to what is budgeted for.

The local nursing fraternity is meanwhile celebrating the news that 49 of the 61 nurses who took the Regional Exam for Nursing Registration (RENR) were successful, which is one of the top pass rates in the region. (KJ)

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