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We need 70 more nurses, Darville says

The public healthcare system still has a shortage of 70 specialty nurses, despite the recent arrival of 50 nurses from Cuba, Minister of Health Dr. Michael Darville said yesterday, adding that the government is aiming to bring another 40 nurses on stream soon.

“On coming to office, my ministry [had] an assessment done which proved that there was a shortage of some 130 specialty nurses throughout the public healthcare system,” Darville said.

“[This] means, with the 50 nurses that arrived from Cuba, we still have a shortage of some 70 nurses that must be filled.

“Fortunately, I was told by the council that 40 Bahamian nurses from the University of The Bahamas are finishing up 

examinations and, if all goes well, we are ready to bring them on either at the Public Hospitals Authority or with the Department of Public Health.”

Darville said The Bahamas has been losing nurses to the United States and Canada for years because the nurses are so well trained.

“We are having preliminary discussions with the council, the nurses union, and other government agencies to find innovative ways to stop the brain drain through postgraduate training and other career incentives for healthcare workers,” Darville said.

Darville said The Bahamas’ shortage of nurses is likely much higher than his estimates given the additional services needed on the Family Islands, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the “much-needed” health expansion programs.

He said there are more than 117 nurses training at the University of The Bahamas.

Darville said they will help to fill the gap.

“We must begin an aggressive recruitment exercise in our high schools to encourage young graduates to select nursing as a career option,” he said.

Even before COVID-19 swept across the globe, in early 2020, The Bahamas was facing a shortage of nurses.

The issue became a vital one, in the pandemic, as hospitals quickly became overwhelmed and staff stretched to their capacity.

At multiple points, during the second and third waves of COVID, beds were available but could not be used because of the shortage of nurses.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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