Three hundred (300) of the country’s specialist nurses are on course to be given permanent positions in the health sector. Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, announced the increase during his contribution to the Sectoral Debate in Gordon House on Wednesday, May 3.
During several meetings with the executive of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, NAJ, and the nurses, the Minister had made clear his dissatisfaction that many of the nation’s nurses were being routinely employed on a contractual basis. Some nurses have cited the lack of tenure as high priority and a contributing factor for some of them deciding to migrate. Dr. Tufton is delivering on his commitment to the nurses to resolve the anomaly.
“Too many of our nurses work on contracts, do not have the benefits that permanent staff enjoy and the security of tenure they deserve. We have had discussions with the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and a Cabinet Submission has been prepared to increase the cadre of nurses,” the Health Minister told Parliament and nurses who were in the Gallery.
Dr. Tufton added that “during this year, the Ministry of Heath will be working with the Ministry of Finance to determine a further increase in keeping with the reform and modernization of the public health sector.”
The issues affecting nurses resurfaced earlier this year, as larger countries had been mass recruiting Jamaican nurses. The Minister noted that the ad hoc recruitment process in some instances threatened service delivery, particularly in certain areas of specialization.
Following Dr. Tufton’s intervention at the Executive Board Meeting of the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, and a subsequent visit to the United Kingdom – one of the top two recruiters – efforts to collaborate in the training and employment placement of specialist nurses have been progressing.
Dr. Tufton said, “we have started that process by engaging the United Kingdom (UK) Government to develop a collaborative effort between both countries for nurses training. The programme will see nurses begin their training here in Jamaica and completing that training in the UK. So far, the discussions are going well. I am hoping to have an announcement within the next three months on the progress of these discussions.”