Press briefing with Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel The Most Honourable Jeffrey Bostic – Dec. 20th, 2021. (PMO)

After two days of meetings, the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Ministry of the Public Service (MPS) and the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) have agreed on the way forward in addressing some of the major issues brought forward by the BNA.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel The Most Honourable Jeffrey Bostic, shared the outcomes from meetings held last Friday and today with the MPS and BNA, during a press conference at Ilaro Court this evening.

Noting that the meetings followed established processes and protocols, the Health Minister declared: “Today’s meeting was a very, very productive one, … and we were able to go through the details as outlined, and put our positions, and we came to some agreements on a number of issues.”

During the meetings, the matters raised included appointments; transportation; uniform and general allowances; laundry service; communication; environmental issues; medical insurance; working hours; hazard pay and training.

Minister Bostic pointed out that many of the issues raised were from years ago, and since taking up the post of Minister some three and a half years ago, he has been trying to resolve some of the matters.

“The issue of uniform allowances also came up, and the Minister with responsibility for the public service has directed the Ministry to get some proposals on the allowances in the entire government service from the Director of the Public Service, and that these proposals should be submitted by the end of the current year, so that we can then deal with the matter of uniform allowances,” Minister Bostic stated.

He added: “We agreed that there had to be a comprehensive review of all allowances within the system, and this is not only for nurses but throughout this entire public system, and this will be undertaken in the next fiscal year.”

On the matter of environmental issues, he disclosed that the Ministry has agreed to regular industrial cleaning at healthcare institutions, which had already started at some of the institutions, and would be intensified going forward. 

In addition, he mentioned that a cleaning and maintenance protocol for each healthcare institution would be established, and quarterly visits and reporting by members of the environmental health team would be done. “So that we will continue to monitor this situation and to make sure that these facilities are fit for purpose and fit for work,” he said.

With regard to training, the Health Minister disclosed that training for specialist nurses, paediatric nurses, gerontologists, and in other areas was being addressed, and in the area of nurse practitioner, Minister Bostic noted: “There is a collaboration with the University of the West Indies and the Chamberlain University, which is allied to the Ross University School of Medicine….

“We have done everything in collaboration with Ross University to start the first intake of nurses to do the nursing practitioners’ course, and that should have started in September with Chamberlain University, but there have been some delays. Ten nurses were selected from across the board, the QEH and the public health care system, and it is intended that we will send an additional 10 persons, once we get into the new financial year.”

Minister Bostic added: “I’m happy to report that the meeting was very cordial, and that this really paves the way forward for trying to improve the working conditions of our nurses.” 

sheena.forde-craigg@barbados.gov.bb

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