Nurses call for more recognition from government

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Nurses are clamouring for more public recognition, separate and apart from the annual week of activities, for the services they provide under less than ideal conditions.
Director of Nursing at Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) Jacqueline Jno Baptiste stressed that her colleagues provide a crucial service to the public, sometimes 24 hours per day, in challenging circumstances.
She said a little appreciation for the nurses, who work in the public sector, would go a long way.
“Sometimes, we are under-appreciated for the work we do. I would like to see more awards, more appreciation given to the nurses, not only from an institutional standpoint but also from the government,” Jno Baptiste said.
“I am appealing to the Ministry of Health to look at incentive packages that would encourage our nurses to stay, that will encourage them to feel that they are special and that they are appreciated.”
She also expressed the desire to see more educational opportunites extended to nurses so that they could pursue studies outside of the profession in order to broaden their horizons.
The head of the nursing department at the MSJMC was speaking against the backdrop of Nurses Week, which is currently being observed with a series of activities.
President of the Antigua & Barbuda Nurses Association (ABNA) Karen Josiah is supportive of the call for more recognition.
Like, her colleague, Josiah said that nurses are overworked, however, they still have to provide the best care possible to patients and other clients.
“There is  shortage of nurses in all the communities and they are crying out,” she said. “Nurses are leaving because other places are calling for nurses and are offering better packages.”
The health care providers are also concerned about the renumeration packages for the nurses.
Josiah said that currently, a team is being put together to lead the negotiations with government on a new Collective Bargaining Agreeement (CBA).
The previous agreement covered the period 2006-2017.
“Our salaries have been the same from since 2008, so next year would have made exactly 10 years that it has remained the same. Salaries and all other benefits have been frozen; we are hoping that through the negotiations, government will be able to honour the request for an increase,” Josiah said.
On Saturday, ABNA will host an awards ceremony and gala to celebrate the achievements of its members.
Nurses will be singled out for their years of service and dedication to the health care sector.
The ceremony, to be held at the Jolly Beach Resort & Spa, will bring the curtains down on the activities for Nurses Week 2017.

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