Minister of Health, Donville Inniss??(FP)??

While nurses have been in the vanguard of innovation in the health care system, a top Government official believes the Ministry of Health has a key role to play in facilitating nursing innovation on the island.

Minister of Health Donville Inniss made this observation, while addressing the opening of the Barbados Nurses Association’s (BNA) seminar "Making Change Happen – From Innovation to Practice", today at Accra Beach Hotel.

He said: "Without a doubt, nurses make an enormous contribution to patient care and treatment. One has only to imagine, for a moment, a world without you nurses to realise how vital your services are to everyone."

As he lauded changes brought about by those in the profession, he outlined the myriad ways in which the Ministry had moved to support nurses. Minister Inniss said: "In the recent past, the Government of Barbados has been increasing its financial allocation to the Nursing Department at the Barbados Community College so that student intake could be increased and the necessary resources acquired."

Stating that emphasis would be placed on necessary specialty training at recognised institutions, he said the courses would be in Gerontology, Paediatrics, Critical Care, Ophthalmic Nursing, Forensic Nursing and Diabetes. The aim is to provide quality nursing care that would recognise our acute hospital as the magnate hospital of the Caribbean," he added.

He also acknowledged that consideration was being given to "the development of a locally based Gerontology Course for nurses" and that plans were in progress to train nurses in this specialist area in the academic year 2009-2010, at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Jamaica.??

"It is anticipated that the graduates of this programme will form the faculty in the academic and clinical areas of the programme to be developed," he said.

Members of the BNA heard too that the Ministry in partnership with the UWI had recently embarked upon a Diploma in Health Sciences Development and Management Programme, geared towards improving the skills of Senior Health Practitioners including senior nurses.

And, Minister Inniss said: "This programme was designed to allow participants to develop their skills as change agents in a health sector which is seeking to achieve reforms aimed to enhance the delivery of healthcare to Barbadians."??

The Minister also alluded to recent changes which are reflected in the new Nurses Bill, Rules and Regulations, 2008. These include the reduction in the age of entry into nursing from 18 years to 16 years, thus allowing for persons at a younger age with the requisite qualifications to pursue a career in the profession, as well as the establishment of a category of graduate nurse for persons who have not successfully completed the Regional Examination required for registration.

He also pointed out that it was now mandatory that continuing Nursing Education be a prerequisite for re-registration to ensure that the integrity and quality of the nursing profession is maintained.

Nurses also heard that issues of safety in the workplace were a priority and that the Health Ministry had requested the assistance of the Ministry of Defence and Security to undertake an assessment of all health care facilities, with the view of recommending improvements to the security of staff, visitors, buildings and equipment.

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