Categorized | National News

200 Expat Nurses Being Recruited

More than 200 foreign nurses are being recruited to work in the public healthcare system; the majority of whom are set to take up positions in the Princess Margaret Hospital’s (PMH) long delayed Critical Care Block.

According to Bahamas Nurses Union President Jannah Khalfani, of that group, some have been recruited from throughout the Caribbean, Africa and quite possibly the Philippines, where there are reportedly “thousands” of nursing schools.

In fact, international reports indicate that about 30,000 Filipino nurses travel to the U.S. each year alone.
The Bahamas is by no means the only country wrestling with a nursing shortage.

Globally, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates a shortage of almost 4.3 million nurses, physicians and other health human resources worldwide, reportedly the result of decades of underinvestment in health worker education, training, wages, working environment and management.

“I hope parents would encourage their children to enter the nursing programme, so that we can decrease the number of expat nurses,” Nurse Khalfani said.

The large nursing recruitment comes at a time when more than 30 nurses have still not been confirmed as permanent employees, despite “repeated” promises from both the prime minister and the minister of labour that the issue would be resolved.

“This is an issue that shouldn’t even exist,” she added. “This issue could be resolved by the stroke of the ministers’ [pen] because it’s an administrative problem. Some nurses have told me that letters have been issued – initially 71 nurses had not been confirmed. The letters have been issued, but not the money.”

While the BNU has won the fight to get insurance for its members, its president said there are still a number of outstanding and “embarrassing” concerns.

“There’s the blatant disrespect towards nurses. Nurses [on the Family Islands] have to do flight services any time of day. They have to come on emergency flights with their patients and there’s just no policy in place if that plane were to fall out the air God forbids, that nurse’s family gets nothing. Personal insurance doesn’t cover this,” the union president said.

“Then you have nurses who go on boats to cruise ships in areas like Coco Cay. These nurses are not covered.”

The BNU is one of several unions supporting the Trade Union of Congress’ decision to shut down the country if a number of pending labour industrial agreements are not addressed.

TUC President Obie Ferguson has promised that a national labour rally will be held next Tuesday to bring tens of thousands of workers up to date on all labour issues affecting the country and to gear them up to put pressure on the government to take action.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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