St Lucia concerned about steady migration of trained nurses
CASTRIES, St Lucia, CMC – Health authorities are expressing concern over the steady departure of nurses for employment opportunities overseas.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Felix St Hill, speaking on a radio programme, said an average of two nurses quit the health service on a weekly basis severely affecting primary and secondary health care.
“The fact is that in the past we used to get one or two nurses per month, but now it is almost like one or two nurses per week,” St Hill said, adding that like other Caribbean and small developing countries, S. Lucia is facing the problem of the migration of nurses.
“But I think the good thing about St Lucia is that we have a number of nurses who are unemployed,” he said, recalling that an estimated 175 nurses had been trained in Cuba in recent time.
“These nurses, while quite a number of them have been employed, there is still a large number that has been unemployed. So what we do is as soon as we get the issue of the resignation of the nurses, we send recommendations to the public service commission for replacement of those nurses almost seamlessly.”
According to St Hill, this is not only affecting the secondary care unit at Victoria Hospital, the island’s main public health institution, but also the primary care unit where there are 33 wellness centres throughout the Island.
He said that local nurses, including experienced ones, are opting to take up employment in the developed countries rather than stay at home.
St Hill said the conditions of service and the salaries offered must be more attractive in order to lure them, noting however that the problem is not limited to the labour market for nurses.
“This is probably affecting all kinds of professions within the Caribbean,” the senior official in the Ministry said.