With the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) election scheduled for this week, former president Jannah Khalfani yesterday criticized the current union leadership for not taking advantage of opportunities to improve conditions for nurses.
She said that recruitment and retention of nurses is the primary issue facing the profession in The Bahamas.
General Secretary Julian Mullings, who is running as part of Khalfani’s team as trustee, said that there has been confusion over whether the elections will take place either today or tomorrow.
“We found that what came to the forefront [was] recruiting and retaining,” Khalfani said.
“When you have nurses that tell their supervisors, ‘We don’t care if you cut our pay, we cannot come to work. We are tired,’ then we need to deal with that issue.
“So we have to look at recruiting and retaining. We have to look at ways to do that. Talking to nurses on the line, they have given us some suggestions. They said in recruiting and retaining nurses, you have to look at signing bonuses. You have to look at things like performance allowances.”
She added, “The executives that served between 2016 and 2019 really had an easy run, because most of the more important things we had already accomplished, and I still feel as if there were some things that should have been capitalized on that didn’t happen.
“When the senior doctors had their strike, the nurses could have capitalized on that, and we could have been able to reap some benefits from that pertaining to the salary scales.
“The minister of health was really pushing the fact that…because of all of the nurses leaving, you’re having a brain drain, you’re having a mass movement of nurses from The Bahamas to other countries.
“He was very concerned about that, and so are we.”
BNU President Amancha Williams yesterday had no comment when asked about Khalfani’s criticism.
Khalfani called for nurses to be better compensated for attaining new qualifications, noting that it is common practice in many developed countries.
She also called for nurses to receive more financial support in pursuing ongoing training and education, as it is necessary, but expensive.
The BNU voted to strike in December after tensions boiled over after the Public Hospitals Authority announced a new eight-hour shift system for nurses.
Khalfani said yesterday that a strike should be the last option for the nurses.
“It’s not something that I am happy about when it happens, because you are talking about a very sensitive profession,” she said.
“You are talking about people that are taking care of the nation, and you can’t take that lightly.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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