Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands said yesterday that there have been some outstanding challenges in getting nurses processed through the public health care system.
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet yesterday, Dr Sands said post-Hurricane Dorian, some 70 registered nurses are waiting to fill positions throughout the public health sector.
Dr Sands said he is well aware of how slow the process has been, while noting that he is hoping the problem will be rectified soon.
“This is a real challenge because the process after financial clearance is given, then they have to be vetted by the Public Service Commission and they have to have the SIB (Special Intelligence Branch) review and so on and so forth so it takes unfortunately, far too long,” he said.
“There’s a group of TCNs and RNs who have been incredibly patient that have been long-suffering. As a matter of fact, they would’ve completed their training almost a year ago and I believe that we have been, as a system, far too slow in getting them through.
“They have expressed tremendous disappointment with how slow and slothful the system is and I agree with that. Certainly, we are trying to get them across the finish line and I’m expecting that should happen very soon.”
Dr Sands suggested that his ministry is seeking to find ways to resolve these issues.
“We are looking at how we can compress that system so some of these things are done preemptively because to be a nurse and to struggle with rent, with food and with other expenses. It really is a problem,” he said.
In late March, Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams said 30 Bahamian nurses left Princess Margaret Hospital in a span of two months. She made the comment while calling for a solution relating to nurses being paid outstanding overtime.
Ms Williams said the nurses left the public healthcare system in December 2018 and January 2019 from the ICU and the NCU.
She said in March: “Not foreign nurses, Bahamian nurses (left)…doesn’t that speak volumes? Obviously, you have incurred a shortage. Shift change will not make a difference if you have a manpower shortage. You will incur overtime so you can’t tell the individual you can’t pay them.”
Last year, Dr Sands acknowledged a critical shortage of nurses in public healthcare, saying more than 600 were needed to fill the gaps.