Govt looking to address healthcare worker shortage

Minister of Health Renward Wells said yesterday that the ministry is looking to address a shortage of healthcare workers in the country.

He said in addition to hiring 29 senior house officers, the government is currently looking to address a shortage of nurses.

Wells said there are 54 student nurses who need to sit their final exam so that they can be brought into the system. He said they are hoping for the exam to be completed by the end of September.

He also noted that the government is looking to bring in nurses from abroad.

“Then there’s the circumstance of just looking for nurses abroad, whether they are from India, from the Philippines, from Israel,” he said outside Cabinet.

“I know there were a number of overtures that were sent out to the international community prior to COVID.

“There was a need for some 100 nurses prior to COVID,” he said.

“So, we’re moving on that track.

“The third track is to look at our circumstances [and find] an immediate injection of individuals. I don’t know if it will be Cuba because, at the end of the day, there is a language issue there, and we wouldn’t seek to want to compound our problems any more in the healthcare system other than what we already have.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers have had an increased workload, which resulted in much frustration in the industry, as well as many frontline workers being exposed to the virus.

On August 24, health officials said 72 healthcare workers had contracted COVID-19 since July.

Wells also noted that the ministry is looking into complaints on social media decrying the treatment of patients at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).

“We have not seen any direct complaints, written complaints, but the ministry is looking into it.

“I know the staff at PMH had a meeting yesterday on those kinds of circumstances in social media.

“I think the Bahamian people have to keep in mind that given where we’re at, the staff itself within the medical community, throughout the country in both the public and private sector, is stretched.

“And hearing the kinds of things that we’re hearing with regards to the loss of life, it doesn’t sit well with them. It certainly doesn’t sit well with me. We’re going to do all that we can to continue to preserve the lives of the Bahamian people.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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