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Minister: Nurse shortage understated in report

Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that along with “several hundred” more nurses at Princess Margaret Hospital, The Bahamas needs an additional 500 nurses to adequately staff public health facilities across the country.

“Knowing that we need several hundred nurses at PMH and probably 500, 600 nurses across the healthcare system in The Bahamas, our issue is not producing nurses,” he said outside Cabinet.

“It’s holding onto nurses.”

A 2016 operations review report of Princess Margaret Hospital found that the hospital requires an additional 115 to 120 nurses to adequately service patients. However, Sands said on Monday that the report greatly understated the extent of the shortage.

Sands said the lack of sufficient nurses is particularly evident in Accident and Emergency.

“Even as we try to move patients out of the emergency room, you are limited by the number of nurses that you have,” he said.

“You cannot put people on a ward unless you have nurses to take care of them. There’s only so much overtime that the nurses can work.”

The report highlighted that at the time, 23 percent of nurses at PMH were non-Bahamians.

Sands said the government is doing what it can to find ways to retain nurses.

“This has been a many-decade problem that hasn’t been addressed,” he said.

“And the chickens have come home to roost. So, we are now addressing it in a real way with the hopes that we don’t see the types of problems that they’ve had in other Caribbean countries.

“Last year in Jamaica, they would have lost some 90 nurses, destroying their ability to provide certain services in their major university hospital. It is a serious problem because Caribbean countries other than a few…find it very, very difficult to retain their excellent, well-trained nurses.”

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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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