Wed | Sep 23, 2020

Letter of the Day | Nursing needs fixing in Jamaica

Published:Friday | February 21, 2020 | 12:00 AM
The Government has completed a needs gap of healthcare personnel and is working on several programmes to increase and improve retention and training.


I write as a concerned member of the public and a member of the nursing profession. The profession needs urgent help as every year the country loses 500-plus of our brightest and most qualified nurses to developed countries that come bearing ‘gifts’.

Numbered among the migrants are nursing educators/lecturers, without whom the training of nurses in Jamaica will suffer, as is currently happening in almost all the universities/community colleges.

As a profession, nursing has not received the respect it deserves in Jamaica from either side of the political divide. For example, nurses are the only healthcare professionals who render care on a 24-hour basis, yet they are never accorded the respect other health providers are accorded.

Testament to this situation is the fact that the chief nursing officer in the Ministry of Health is supervised by the chief medical officer, when these are two related but separate professions.

To my mind, this suggests that nursing is not autonomous. Prudence suggests that this situation needs fixing as I believe that the chief nursing officer should be supervised by the permanent secretary and the minister.

Similarly, in some institutions the chief executive officer supervises the directors of nursing and carries out their annual performance appraisals. This, too, needs fixing. How can a non-technical person supervise a nursing ­technocrat? Based on my thought processes this should be the role of the chief nursing officer.

On another note, bonding nursing students for a period of 3-5 years in lieu of outstanding Students’ Loan Bureau repayment may be one solution to retaining some of our brightest nurses in the short to medium term. In addition, there should be a clause that prevents a foreign entity from paying off the debt that is owed to the bureau.

Hewill Williams

A very concerned nurse