Categorized | National News


A shortage of nurses in the healthcare system has left the industry handicapped.

The public sector is losing nurses at a rapid rate and understaffing of nurses in the Public Hospitals Authority is severe to the point that as of this week, four intensive care beds have been shut down.

Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said the situation is serious.

“It is absolutely critical! The implications are that there are Bahamian patients who would wish to be in the intensive care unit, but they cannot be because we simply don’t have the manpower or the nursing support to care for them safely,” Dr. Sands said.

He added that the government is looking at a number of aspects to combat the shortage.

“The conversation has started and what we are looking to do is to see how we can modify the terms of engagement. How we can demonstrate more appreciation for what they do. That has service implications; it may mean we look at deployment; the way we deploy them. They’re currently deployed in a four on four off rotation; that has implications for time and reimbursement,” Dr. Sands said.

He added that the Ministry of Health is also looking into having a conversation with the Nurses’Union to propose some modifications for nursing.

“We also want to look realistically at what sustainable options there are to improve the conditions of nurses so that we’re not losing 60 to 70 nurses per year to the United States,” Dr. Sands said.

He said that the shortage has caused them to outsource staff.

Currently, there is a huge contingent of non- Bahamian nurses, which the minister said is not the ideal condition.

“Our preference would be to staff our critical care areas with Bahamian experts, but as rapidly as we train nurses, we lose nurses either to North America, retirement or the private sector,” Dr. Sands said.

He added that this means that the Ministry has to look at nurses separate and apart from other professions.

“I know that that would be very controversial, but that has life and death implications for our people,” Dr. Sands said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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