February 13, 2009
T&T calls for Nurses

Trinidad and Tobago desperately wants Vincentain nurses to work in their health care system, and the government is asking registered nurses who cannot be placed in the health care system here to take up the opportunity.{{more}}

Minister of Health Dr Douglas Slater was responding to questions that have surfaced over the termination letters that were supposed to be given to about 40 registered nurses, informing them that they will not be retained in the system after February.

Dr Slater visited Cabinet Room while Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves was conducting a press conference when the question about the nurses was asked by a reporter.

The Health Minister stressed that the nurses knew before they started the nursing programme that all of them would not find places in the Ministry of Health, and that under the Government’s system of managed migration, opportunities abroad, including within the Caribbean, will be sought for them.

It is not the first time that controversy has surfaced over this policy, and Dr Slater said that to avoid that in the future the new batch of nursing students will be required to sign a new document before commencing training, which will make the policy absolutely clear.

Nurses are paid a stipend of $800 throughout the duration of their training by Government, and Dr Slater explained that the registered nurses, who were still receiving the stipend, had to make way for new nursing students coming into the programme.

These nurses, Dr Slater explained, have ready made opportunities in line for them as Trinidad and Tobago is requesting as many nurses as can be sourced to meet the void in their health system.

Trinidad and Tobago even made an offer recently to pay for the training of some Vincentian nurses, once there is an agreement by them to work in the twin island state upon completion of their studies.

He said that he explained to the nurses about a month ago that Trinidad and Tobago has been very good to this country, and it is only fair that now that this country can help them that we should.

He said that some of the nurses have been showing interest in the Trinidad and Tobago opportunity. About 50 nurses from this country are already serving in Barbados, and are doing very well according to reports, Dr Slater said.

In an interview last year with SEARCHLIGHT, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Barbados, Winston Collymore, commended the government on its policy in nurses’ training, describing the policy of training more nurses than the local health system requires as a “very commendable act”.

Collymore said that by training the surplus nurses, the government is opening a door for them to get good job opportunities.