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Editorial: Will UK look to Ja?

Published:Wednesday | February 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The ongoing quarrel over pay, including a recent strike by junior doctors, by staff in the UK's National Health Service (NHS), may not be so far removed from Jamaica as it appears at first glance. Many of the issues that new exercise doctors in England or Wales are not dissimilar to what doctors here complain about, including long hours and poor working conditions.

But there is, perhaps, a more immediate issue with the regard to the NHS, to which Jamaican policymakers ought to begin to pay attention - the possible recruitment of nurses.

Part of the quarrel in the NHS is how to run a genuine seven-day service, providing the same quality of health care as on weekends. Apparently, that would require recruiting, in the near term, up to 11,000 new staff, including 4,000 doctors and 3,000 nurses.

If that happens, that could mean the UK looking to the Caribbean for some of those nurses. With better pay and conditions of service, Jamaican nurses could be expected to join the trek, putting more pressure on the island's health system.