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Sands: Nurses shortage a national threat

Former Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said the shortage of nurses in The Bahamas is “one of the greatest threats to national security” in The Bahamas.

Sands said the intensive care unit at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) cannot operate properly because of the issue.

“We are losing our nurses in droves,” he said during the 2021/2022 budget debate.

“They are leaving. They are resigning. Some of them are dying.

“I believe, without exaggeration, that this is possibly one of the single greatest threats to our national security and safety.”

Sands added, “In the private sector in intensive care units, we have lost up to 50 percent of our critical care nurses.

“… At PMH, we cannot open the ICU to full capacity because we don’t have enough nurses.

“This is a critical problem, Mr. Speaker. You can have all the whistles and bells. You can have the biggest towers, but if you do not have the human capital, we are not going to be able to care for our people.

In April, Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) President Amancha Williams said at least 25 nurses have left the public sector to take jobs abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Williams said The Bahamas is losing trained nurses who work in key areas like the intensive care unit.

Sands said yesterday that training new nurses has also been impacted by the pandemic. He suggested that salaries for nurses in The Bahamas must be increased to keep them in the country.

“COVID has interfered with the practical training of all healthcare professionals, doctors and nurses,” he said.

“Graduate nurses, in particular, in The Bahamas have had their clinical experience delayed because of COVID.

“… Over the years, we have not provided the appropriate level of compensation for nurses that they deserve.

“The average nursing salary in the United States right now, and they are sucking all of our nurses out of The Bahamas, the average nursing salary is $80,000 per year for a nurse.

“… Some health systems in Georgia are paying 10,000 to 30,000 signing bonuses. 

“We have not completed the revision of the Nursing Act. And in the public sector, we have a shortage of some 300 registered nurses and 102 trained clinical nurses.”

Minister of Health Renward Wells has acknowledged the shortage of nurses in The Bahamas, and said the government is working to keep them happy and in the country.

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Rachel Scott

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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