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Nursing pains! - NAJ president says gains in local healthcare delivery could be eroded

Published:Saturday | September 15, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Nurses at the Andrews Memorial Hospital in St Andrew.

Nurses Association of Jamaica President Carmen Johnson has expressed concern that gains made over several decades in building the country's reputation for good, professional nursing could be eroded as recruitment of its members for overseas jobs intensifies.

She said that the unchecked recruitment of Jamaica's most experienced nurses by countries such as the United Kingdom has not only increased the pressure on those willing to stay in the system, but is likely to result in a collapse of the sector.

"I know England, for example, has been recruiting our [nurses] and that the numbers they are seeking have increased. I also know that they are now preparing for another group to go off to England, and these are now in the final phase of embassy preparations," she told The Gleaner.

According to Johnson, It doesn't auger well for the healthcare sector in Jamaica to be party to systematic recruitment that is bereft of any stringent rules of engagement to ward off poaching the country's most experienced nurses.

 

GREATEST CHALLENGE

 

"One of the greatest challenges we are facing is that the nurses who are leaving us are some of our most experienced, to include those who would have had a number of years of experience at level one, and also our specialist nurses," Johnson said.

"In the end, what it does create is that at one end of the spectrum, we have our novice nurses who are coming into the healthcare system, and at the other end, we have our older cadre of nurses who are looking to go out within the next 10 to 15 years, or less. That is a major issue if we cannot retain them for the purpose of leveraging the experience we have," added Johnson.

The senior nurse's administrator mentioned that it would be encouraging if Government created rules aimed at slowing the attrition rate and in that way allow local nurses to stay in the system a little longer to gain experience and to sustain the health sector at a high level.

"At the moment, we find that we do not have that level of support to encourage and nurture these younger nurses to help them gain the experience for them to become seasoned professionals and to move to the competency level to offer that level of healthcare Jamaica so desperately needs," said Johnson.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com