After a year of waiting and surviving off a monthly stipend, 25 nurses from the Ministry of Health received job appointment letters yesterday.
Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said the ministry would like to compress this process to 60 days moving forward.
“You may [ask], ‘Why can’t it be less than that?’ There is a level of due diligence that is required in order to verify credentials and make sure that everything is in order, but to have persons working full time and to be expected to smile and to work hard when inside they’re suffering is really a problem,” he said at the letter presentation.
“[They’re] concerned about not being able to pay bills, not being able to provide for their children and so on and so forth. It is something that has personally been very painful for me to see.”
Sands added that it is extremely sad that the system has not been able to be responsive to their needs.
He said that as trained clinical nurses or registered nurses await their official appointment, they continue to get a stipend.
That stipend, he said, occasionally does not show up when it should.
“Before being appointed, they’re not really a part of the civil service, not entitled to national insurance benefits, [and] there are issues of liability as they work in the hospital,” Sands explained.
“These are some very serious issues that have to be resolved… So, these are recognized that they are cross-cutting and they require a progressive view of how we engage and appoint professionals moving forward.”
He added that the difference between the nurses’ salary and their stipend is “not insignificant”, and they are entitled to a significant amount of back pay.
The minister was unable to say exactly how much is owed, but he did indicate that the dollar value is in the tens of thousands.