Nurses Association continues advocacy for improved conditions

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The Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association is threatening to shut down the entire healthcare system in Antigua and Barbuda as they continue to advocate for better working conditions at the Clarevue Psychiatric Hospital. Karen Josiah, head of the association, said that the entire nursing body will be called to protest if the government does not fulfil a promise to resolve the problems affecting workers at the hospital and the 119 patients that are currently at the mental facility.
“If nothing is done of a satisfactory proportion, we will not only allow the 12 staff nurses to go on strike, we are going to have to call on our general membership from the other institutions,” Josiah declared on Sunday. She was addressing the matter during an interview on Sunday’s Big Issues programme. If this happens, healthcare services at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre, services at all district clinics, and government-operated pharmacies, including the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS), which offers pharmaceutical supplies to qualified residents of the twin-island state, will be disrupted.
Josiah added that the organisation has the right to make that decision, however they hope it will not come to that. “This situation is urgent enough! We don’t want to keep making reference to this same issue from 2009, 2010 and on and on. Let it stop here; enough is enough,” Josiah said. Over the past two weeks, workers at the hospital have been protesting over the conditions at the facility. Established and non-established workers went on strike. However, non-established workers eventually resumed their duties.
Last Wednesday, the nurses also threatened to join the protest and they gave the government 30 days to meet their demands for proper bathroom facilities, outstanding allowances, locker space, improved working conditions and better facilities. The auxiliary staff, which includes nursing aids, cleaners, and maintenance workers, are also clamouring for cleaning agents and basic equipment to do their work. The leading officials at the institution have refused to speak to the media on the matter.

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