UPDATE: Health Ministry activates emergency protocols as nurses withdraw services
The Ministry of Health says it has activated its emergency protocols in response to high levels of absenteeism by registered nurses in the public sector.
The health ministry says an average of 52 percent of nurses have been reported absent at several health facilities across the island.
It says while there has been no official notification of industrial action by the Executive of the Nurses' Association of Jamaica, the health ministry has alerted the ministries of Finance and Planning and Labour and Social Security.
The Association's president Janett Farr has said nurses, upset about the government’s protracted delay in paying retroactive money from the reclassification of the health sector, have withdrawn their services.
Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says the ministry’s Emergency Operations Centre and emergency protocols are in place to ensure that operations at health facilities are not severely hampered.
Ferguson says Regional Technical Directors have all been alerted and directed to monitor the situation at the local level.
He also says the team at the centre has been contacting all hospitals and health centres to ascertain the extent of the problem.
According to Ferguson, the centre will ensure the ongoing monitoring of attendance of nurses and the impact on service delivery, provide guidance to the Regional Health Authorities and determine the nature of the intervention that may be required.
The health minister further says the centre will maintain close contact with all service delivery points including Regional Health Authorities, Parish Health Departments, Hospitals and Health Centres.
It says it will re-deploy staff, if the need arises, and periodically advise the public of measures being taken.