Why is it that nurses had to take to the streets of Port of Spain recently, in protest, to highlight the government’s continued failure to address their legitimate and long-standing concerns?
It is regrettable that after so many stories highlighted in mainstream media about the plight of nurses and nursing staff shortages at major public hospitals, the government is yet to treat with these critical issues and continues to drag its collective feet whilst citizens suffer.
In a recent interview with the media, President of the Registered Nurses Association, Mr. Idi Stuart, said that there are over “1,000 vacancies for nurses at the North West Regional Health Authority”. Coupled with this are the vacancies yet to be filled at the new Arima and Point Fortin Hospitals.
In fact, in a response to a question in Parliament (May 27th, 2022), the Minister of Health revealed that, as at March 31st, 2022, only 6,570 nursing positions were filled out of the 10,126 positions on the establishment. This gives an overall deficit of 3,556 positions.
Additionally, the Seemungal Report highlighted, amongst other things, the woeful nurse to patient ratio at public hospitals. This goes to the heart of the matter as a chronic shortage of nurses continues to affect and compromise proper patient care.
The Minister of Health has been aware of this situation, and, despite the many requests and pleas by those who speak on behalf of nurses in and out of Parliament, has blatantly refused to address this important issue as a matter of public urgency.
I make the call once again for the government to fill these nursing vacancies now and to get serious about delivering proper and adequate healthcare to the suffering citizens of Trinidad and Tobago.