Leadership In Health Care Challenged

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A senior health official has lamented the fact that trained managers are not staying in the health sector.????

Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Elizabeth Ferdinand underscored this point today, while addressing the start of a workshop for senior health nurses, at the Accra Beach Hotel.

The workshop was held to strengthen the capacity of senior nurses and create a sense of commitment and ???esprit de corps’ for organisational success.

Dr. Ferdinand said: "Although there is excellent leadership in the public sector today, there is some evidence to suggest that this sector in general may not be retaining its managers whom they have spent resources in training.

??"In addition, there is a trend for top jobs to be undervalued and underpaid, with the result that many potential leaders leave [the] health [sector] or look to take up other jobs in other parts of the public sector or even the private sector."

??She also noted that leadership and management in the health sector were being challenged. And, she listed among the challenges, higher expectations of the general public, "who expect public sector managers to be as good or better than their counterparts in the private sector," and who call for a modernised public sector service "oriented towards the user friendly initiative, so that the client is the centre of service delivery".

The senior official questioned how the sector would adapt to the changing attitudes of new recruits and younger staffers "who look at things a bit differently than some of us". ??She said: "I have been told that often the younger leaders feel that they are not given the opportunity to manage with any new flair or style because of the bureaucracy of the system to give them the freedom to manage and the support system to do so."??

Dr. Ferdinand also challenged workshop participants to indicate how they would influence change and improve leadership in their respective health sectors and departments. And, she recommended, among others, that they have a clear shared idea of what leadership behaviours work and what have not worked in today’s environment and change from the traditional technical and operational roles, to ones of cooperative and network leadership.

Meanwhile, coordinator of the workshop and Chief Public Health Nurse, Joyce Holder, said it was expedient that training and continuing education opportunities be made available to potential nurse leaders or managers to adequately prepare them to function effectively and efficiently in a dynamic health care environment.

She stressed that it is estimated that within the next three to six years, 18 of the most senior nurses will reach the compulsory age of retirement and an additional number of nurses could voluntarily retire.

"During that period, nurses with lesser experience will have to assume increased responsibility. However, there is no need for alarm for there is potential in the department to fill the void," Mrs. Holder maintained. jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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