Over 1,500 nurses resigned from public health between 2019 and 2021 - AGD Report
Over the two-year period 2019 to 2021, some 1,514 nurses resigned from the public health system, according to Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis.
The auditor general sought and obtained this data from the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) as she conducted an audit into the effectiveness of Jamaica's institutional framework in enabling a strong and resilient national public health system.
No data on nurses' resignations were available prior to 2019.
Data obtained from the Nursing Council of Jamaica (NCJ) indicated that 23,218 nurses were licensed by the NCJ over the period April 2016 to February 2022.
However, the data also showed that overseas recruiters requested verification of licence from NAJ for 4,259 nurses in both the private and public sectors between April 2016 and November 2021.
The Auditor General's Department was unable to disaggregate the numbers between the public and private sectors.
“Nonetheless, the number of licences verified as a percentage of the number of nurses licensed reduced in 2019-20, most likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has shown an upward trend since, suggesting that nurses are seeking employment overseas,” Monroe Ellis explained.
In a performance audit report of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, the auditor general said that with the migration of nurses, Jamaica's healthcare system is facing challenges maintaining experienced nurses to offer normal healthcare services, particularly in instances of health emergencies.
Monroe Ellis noted that the health and wellness ministry and the regional health authorities are aware of this challenge.
However, she said that despite having this awareness minimal effort has been made to monitor the extent of the problem by implementing an effective system to track migration numbers, measure the impact, especially on the public health system, and implement effective strategies to address the issue to build resilience in the public healthcare system.
In its 10-year Strategic Plan 2019 to 2030, the Ministry of Health and Wellness acknowledged that the public health system is encountering challenges with migration, lack of health professionals, and unequal distribution of health professionals in rural and urban areas.
The ministry indicated that policy recommendations were developed in the short term to deepen existing bilateral arrangements for inward migration to meet human resource needs; while in the long run, improving remunerations and career development, human resource management and training.
Consistent with the policy recommendations, the ministry also indicated that it sought to foster technical cooperation with countries for recruitment purposes to fill human resource gaps, as well as continue to collaborate with overseas partners to accommodate training and development of staff for critical areas.
- Edmond Campbell
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