Sat | Aug 8, 2020

Treat our nurses better, implores Abrahams

Published:Saturday | May 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Shailee Neish (right), acting director of nursing services at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, and Carmen L. Johnson, president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, at an International Nurses Day event, held recently at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.

The long-standing challenges that have plagued the nursing sector for years were again brought to the fore, as Dr Michael Abrahams made an urgent appeal for the welfare of nurses to be improved.

The obstetrician and gynaecologist, who was guest speaker at an International Nurses Day event recently, said both administrations should be ashamed of the way they handled salary issues over the years.

"Our nurses are overworked, overwhelmed, underpaid and unappreciated. I empathise with our nurses and it's not just because of the salaries, but the attitudes they face regarding the salary," he told the gathering at The Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.

"If the country genuinely cannot afford to pay nurses then it would be fine, but we continue to hear of taxes being waived for some wealthy corporations. Some of our politicians continue to get fat off us (citizens) while the nurses struggle, and I have observed this with successive administrations."

Carmen Johnson, president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, was also very strident in her remarks as she called on the Government and other stakeholders to do more to protect the standards of the nursing profession.

"Nurses, in order for us to ensure that health is a human right, we can't become complacent and comfortable with accepting and offering substandard care," she said

"In all of this, I'm saddened by the fact that the Government of Jamaica is still not doing enough to protect the health and well-being of our nurses. Neither are they doing enough to ensure the retention of experienced human resources in health."

Johnson added, "Some of the regional health authorities continue to say to our nurses, we really don't need you, by offering meagre six- and 12-month contracts that have no gratuity attached to it."