Call for greater dialogue between nurses and policy makers

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A call has been made for a less confrontational relationship between the government and those in the medical field, in particular, members of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association (ABNA).
Molwyn Joseph, the health minister, made the appeal on Wednesday while he addressed the opening of the Caribbean Nurses Organisation’s (CNO) 60th anniversary celebration and Leadership Summit, which took place at the Jolly Beach Resort.
He said that based on his observation, there is not enough dialogue between both parties in the delivery of healthcare
“We need to identify the synergies that should exist between the wellbeing and welfare of the nurses and the responsibility of the policymakers to the nurses. That dialogue must happen,” the minister said.
He further stated that “Too long we have pursued this in an adversarial manner. And, it tends to retard the development of nurses and undermine the standards and quality of service to the patients.”
Over the past few years, the association has faced-off with the government over a number of matters stemming from working hours, the condition under which they are forced to work and stalled negotiations among other matters.
The talks with the government generally come after the nurses have taken industrial action.
However, Joseph said that he is open to continuous dialogue to deal with the matters affecting nurses, highlighting the significant role that they play in society.
“We cannot ask a nurse to be there at midnight without having some appreciation for what is going to happen to her family and her children. A combination of open, honest discussion between policymakers, ministers and leaders in the medical profession could very well provide the answers that have dogged us for so long,” Minister Joseph said.
Joseph also praised the work and sacrifices of the nurses, particularly during the passage of Hurricane Irma when Antigua had to accommodate 1,800 people.
He also lauded them for the care that they had taken in making it possible for Antigua and Barbuda to become a Caribbean leader in the elimination of mother to child transmission of HIV and Syphilis.
The purpose of CNO is to work towards improving the health of all people in the Caribbean by improving the standards of nursing education and practice, and by advancing the socio-economic welfare of all nurses.
The organisation seeks to influence health and nursing policy regionally and internationally and empowers its members to work on behalf of nursing personnel, nursing, and the peoples of the Caribbean.
Nurse Elnora Warner, president of the Caribbean Nursing Organisation, said that the summit, under the theme: “Nurses reflecting, retooling and re-energising the organisationn to advance nursing practice,” will be used to highlight and deliberate on the challenges facing the nursing profession.
The summit ends today with a closing ceremony.

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