By Theresa Goodwin
The President of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association (ABNA) is reiterating calls for greater incentives for nurses and community health aides, noting that more and more of them are seeking opportunities outside of Antigua and Barbuda.
Nurse Soria Dupie Winston said that some of the offers being made to her colleagues include housing and other benefits that are not being offered here.
She said that these and other initiatives will be placed on the table shortly as the union prepares to enter into another round of negotiations with the government.
“We want to try our best to retain those wonderful nurses that we have here. We know that the pastures look greener, and I have seen some packages that are being offered in the US and the UK, and they look quite handsome.
“We are hoping that once we go into the negotiation meeting, we can ask for special consideration as it relates to a housing for nursing. One nurse went to the bank, and she was told that because of her salary, she couldn’t qualify for a mortgage and it does not make sense, you are studying for four years and you cannot get a piece of the rock, it is just not right,” Dupie-Winston explained.
At present, nurses are able to benefit from duty-free concessions for their travel, and a scholarship through the Board of Education (BoE) to pursue continuing education in any field they wish to pursue.
Dupie-Winston also spoke about the issue of a pension plan for workers who are directly employed by the board at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre.
“Nurses employed directly through the hospital there is still no pension plan in place for them, and this is a major concern for us. Once a nurse would have worked for so many years and it is time to retire there is no pension plan. That does not make sense.”
She added that if the relevant authorities want to retain nurses in Antigua and Barbuda, the above-mentioned initiatives should be in place to ensure that they are comfortable.
The ABNA president said that between 10 and 16 nurses have left the island for 2022 in search of greater employment opportunities, while many others are reviewing options that have been presented to them.