Deeper nursing crisis
Tufton looks for Nigeria injection to ease critical painSunday, July 28, 2019
BY ARTHUR HALL
JAMAICA has turned to Nigeria in an effort to ease what has become a crisis situation regarding the chronic shortage of nurses which continues to ail the island's public health sector.
Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says Nigeria is one avenue being explored by his ministry, among others, as it seeks to increase the number of nurses in the system.
“We have just started preliminary negotiations with Nigeria. Years ago Jamaica had a very good relation as it relates to medical exchanges with Nigeria. That had fallen off when there was a military government in that country. Recently I met with the Nigerian high commissioner here… where we discussed a resumption of that arrangement,” Tufton told the Jamaica Observer.
“They have a supply and we have had a relationship with them in the past,” added Tufton.
The health minister was reacting to a statement made by Dr Simone French, medical director of the Emergency Medical Division at University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), who last week told members of the Rotary Club of Downtown Kingston that the island is facing a major crisis with the inadequate number of critical care nurses.
“There is a severe shortage of nurses in general, but more importantly the stock of A&E [accident and emergency] trained nurses,” said French as she noted that the Jamaican nurses who are trained in emergency medicine are so efficient that they are in high demand internationally.
“The nursing shortage is not new to Jamaica — it is a global phenomenon. And so, countries like ours are training high-quality nurses and the United States, Canada and other countries, which can pay them more, rapidly take them up.
“How do we offer service when we are losing nurses at such a rate? I am a physician but I need my nursing colleagues. We are a team, and for us to do the best for patients we need our nursing colleagues — and they are being siphoned off at an alarming rate,” added French.
Admitting that this is a serious challenge, Tufton pointed out that Jamaica lost some 500 specialist nurses to other countries last year. He did not say how many nurses Jamaica needs to plug the gap, but it is understood that there is a demand now for over 1,000 personnel.
Tufton noted that there is a major shortage of nurses worldwide with countries recruiting heavily, so Jamaica's response has been to expand training locally while looking to develop and expand the recruiting from countries which have an abundance of trained nurses.
The health minister said this includes training more critical care nurses by using clinical spaces in China and the United Kingdom (UK).
“We have instituted two programmes, one involving clinical rotation in Chinese hospitals. The first batch of nurses went up late last year with the second batch slated to go up in August, and another clinical rotation of specialist nurses with the first batch at Leeds Teaching Hospital in the UK.
“What this has done is allow us to recruit and train more nurses and use bilateral arrangements to provide the clinical rotation component of the training, so we can put more people into the system. That programme will basically double the capacity of critical care trained nurses,” said Tufton.
According to Tufton Jamaica is also looking to Cuba for nurses and other health professionals.
“There are about 200 nurses and doctors expected in the island soon from Cuba, which has been our main recruitment ground. The team just came back about a month ago and we have signed off on the about 200. Not all of them are critical care but they are advanced, and that will help to alleviate the problem also,” said Tufton.
In 2010 Jamaica adopted the Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, in order to properly manage migration to address the problem. This provides a framework for both source and destination countries to enter into bilateral agreements, but it has not slowed the mass recruiting of Jamaican nurses.
A 2009 World Bank Study revealed that 15 years after graduation, about half of trained nurses from English-speaking Caribbean countries were working abroad, with three times as many working outside of the region as those working in the regional states.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login