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'Life And Death' Fears As 70 Nurses Exit Annually

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

THE Minister of Health has lamented that the public healthcare system is losing 70 nurses per year to North America and the private sector, undermining its ability to care for the Bahamian people.

"What we are looking to do is see how we can modify the terms of engagement of nurses; how we can demonstrate more appreciation for what they do," Dr Duane Sands said. "Clearly that has service implications, and it may mean we look at the way we deploy nurses. That has implications for time and reimbursement.

"We also want to look realistically at what sustainable options there are to retain nurses so we are not losing 70 nurses per year to the US.

"As of this week, four intensive care unit beds are shut down because we simply do not have the staff. It is absolutely critical, and so the implications are that there are Bahamian patients who would wish to be in intensive care but can't because we do not have the manpower and nursing power to care for them."

Dr Sands added: "There is a huge contingent of non-Bahamian nurses, many from the Philippines, and we continue to recruit. Our preference would be to staff our critical care unit with Bahamian personnel and experts, but as rapidly as we train nurses we lose them to either North America, retirement or the private sector. "I think we have to look at nurses separate and apart from the other professions. I know that will be very controversial but the implications are life and death for our people."

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