Wed | Jul 18, 2018

Ja to train more critical-care nurses; call out retirees

Published:Thursday | June 30, 2016 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell

With a chronic shortage of critical-care nurses in Jamaica, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has announced that the Government intends to ramp up its training programme this year.

At present, there are 137 critical-care nurses, with the health sector in need of a minimum of 240.

"This year, we intend to train 50 per cent more critical-care nurses as part of increasing supply in the system. We will also be initiating a drive to bring back retired nurses, who can further contribute to the system," Tufton declared yesterday in his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Parliament.

"Where a shortfall still remains, we have no choice but to continue the process of recruiting nurses from overseas to boost our existing supplies."


Competition from North America, Europe

According to Tufton, the country is facing a major challenge in keeping critical-care nurses in its employ as there are competing interests from recruiting agencies representing hospitals and other health facilities in North America and Europe.

He noted that critical-care nurses were well trained and highly respected in the Caribbean and around the world.

Tufton also addressed a recent Gleaner story, which highlighted that there were close to 700 persons who are homeless, occupying beds in public hospitals, with the majority at Bellevue and another 200 at other hospitals.

"We intend to work to establish within the infirmaries additional housing facilities to take on these persons from the hospitals, providing them with the necessary social support to ensure that they are cared for."

The health minister has also given the assurance that the State would ensure that medical care would be offered to these homeless persons at the facilities to which they are transferred.

"I have established a committee, chaired by Dr Earl Wright, who is tasked with working with agencies such as Food For the Poor, which has also pledged its support; the National Health Fund; and I must also report that I have commenced exploratory talks with the NHT (National Housing Trust) to garner the required funding for this project. Moving these persons out of the hospitals will reduce the waiting time for beds."