112 specialist nurses coming from Cuba next month
Friday, January 06, 2017
One hundred and twelve nurses from Cuba, including 47 who specialise in
critical care, are to arrive in Jamaica in February to ease the shortage
of specialist nurses here.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Winston De La Haye yesterday disclosed that the
nurses are coming as part of an agreement between Kingston and Havana.
De La Haye's revelation came a day after University Hospital of West
Indies (UHWI) Chairman James Moss-Solomon disclosed that the hospital
was forced to cancel major surgeries due to a shortage of specialist
nurses and Intensive Care Unit beds.
The shortage, he said, was being fuelled by the poaching of specialist
nurses by foreign companies, despite the hospital doubling the numbers
of nurses being trained in specialised disciplines.
"We have doubled training of specialist nurses in 2016, and before the
courses are completed, 50 per cent of them are already employed. It
doesn't matter how many millions of dollars we care to put on a bonding
system, USA, Canada, and UK to a lesser extent, are quite happy to pay
it off," he said.
Moss-Solomon said to address the shortage the hospital is actively
pursuing nurses from Cuba and India, and by mid-February it is expected
to have 25 specialist nurses.
In the meantime, chief nursing officer of Jamaica Marva Lawson-Byfield
said that the issue is a longstanding problem because of the quality of
training offered, but the ministry has implemented a number of measures
to deal with the problem.
"Let me assure you that this has not taken us by surprise. This has been
happening over the years; the nurses graduate, they get some skills, and
they go, but it's a little different as they are being recruited very
aggressively. But when you get a Jamaican-trained nurse it is a
well-rounded nurse, so we understand why they are going after our
nurses," she said.
In light of the problem, she said there has been an increase in the
number of specialist nurses at the Jamaica School of Nurse Anaesthesia.
"We normally take between 16 and 18, but in 2014/2015 we took 32, in
2015/2016 we took 33, coupled with the University of Technology (UTech)
that is also training in this area. So right now we have 60 people who
are being trained in critical care, 33 at the Jamaica School of Nursing,
and 27 at UTech," she said.
"We have increased the number of persons that we have training in the
areas of specialisation. In addition, we have a bilateral arrangement
with Cuba; every year we recruit nurses from Cuba," she said noting that
the team recruited 117 nurses last year and that 10 have already
arrived, but the bulk of the nurses are to arrive in the island this year.
Further to that, she said the health minister has had discussions with
Canada, China and England with a view to getting assistance with
training in those countries, as there are not adequate clinical spaces
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