Hospital board tells fed-up nurses their concerns are being urgently addressed

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By Shermain Bique-Charles

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Nurses who recently hit out at a “toxic” work environment, exacerbated by staff shortages and a lack of key equipment have been told their concerns are being addressed with urgency.

The pledge came in a letter from the Board of Directors of the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre to the executive of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association (ABNA).

Nurses met three weeks ago, threatening to take action if their long-standing needs are not met imminently.

Other matters raised at their September 6 meeting included inadequate risk and uniform allowance, along with a lack of benefits for further education, and pensions.

Three weeks ago, a strongly-worded letter sent to Observer from more than a dozen nurses highlighted a string of work-related concerns ranging from apparent preferential treatment to personal safety.

Nurses were also upset that no action appears to have been taken to address a proposal written by ABNA’s executive as far back as 2018.

But in a September 14 letter to ABNA, Chairman of the Board of Directors Glentis Goodwin said nurses’ proposal for a new working contract had the board’s full attention and as such the management committee had been told to address the matter with utmost urgency.

“The board is also cognisant of the time lag since the initial submission of the proposal and will accept any revised information so that same can be considered during this review state,” the letter said.

“Please rest assured that the board will look at the proposal positively and is hopeful that an amicable resolution will arise from the same.”

ABNA initially gave the board one month to address their concerns, failing which they would take action. That deadline would have expired on October 4. But ABNA has since set a new deadline of October 26, as its senior leaders will be attending the Caribbean Nurses Organization conference next month.

Meanwhile, ABNA says it is not impressed with the response from the board and will make its intentions known in a letter currently being formulated by ABNA’s President Soria Dupie-Winston.

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