The Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association (ABNA) is maintaining that the recent transfer of Nurse Clarissa Christopher from the Fiennes Institute to a new post was a “deliberate act of victimisation”.
Christopher is expected to serve as the new Matron of Correctional Institutes, having direct responsibilities for the inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison, residents of the Boys Training School and the Sunshine Home for Girls. The transfer was made by way of a Cabinet decision which took effect on September 1.
The association met with its general membership on Thursday to discuss the matter after calling on Health Minister Molwyn Joseph to re-visit the decision earlier this week.
President of the association Karen Josiah stated yesterday, that the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda jumped the gun by making the decision without consulting the two entities which have to make a recommendation for a nurse to be transferred from one department to another.
Those two entities are the Establishment Division and the Public Service Commission (PSC), additionally a recommendation is customarily made by the Principal Nursing Officer who usually has an input in whether or not a nurse should be transferred, why she thinks the position is important and how it would benefit the nursing profession.
Josiah said this position is also widely advertised for qualified persons to apply, however, in Christopher’s case, this was not done.
“They should have gotten a recommendation from the Principal Nursing Officer and they have bypassed that. That is why we are crying foul and saying that this is an injustice.
“This decision that the Cabinet made already has a name and when the position was created nobody was called for an interview. It appears like the positon was assigned to just one person and we can only conclude that this an injustice,” Josiah said.
The head of the union that represents the interests of nurses in the country, is now calling on the Establishment Division and the PSC to “do the right thing” and “do not approve of this appointment because it is illegal”.
She said the general nursing body was asked to stand in solidarity with the association citing that other members could be affected if the transfer is allowed to go through.
“If this is allowed to go through then who knows who will be next, another member could be transferred just like that,” Josiah said.
Earlier this week, the association issued a statement indicating that Nurse Christopher has been disrespected and unfairly treated and her rights as an employee have been trampled on.
ABNA further stated that it viewed the decision to transfer the senior nurse as unfair and unjust, adding that it would be a waste of resources that would have a crippling effect since nurse Christopher is a qualified midwife and is certified in geriatrics (elderly care) and leadership management.
The association also insisted that the transfer was never discussed with Nurse Christopher and that Cabinet’s decision seems to have been motivated by allegations brought against the nursing official that were never proven.
Meanwhile, during a news conference on Wednesday, the health minister disagreed with the stance taken by the nurses calling it unreasonable.
The minister viewed the transfer as a promotion highlighting that inmates and juveniles should have adequate access to proper healthcare regardless of their circumstances.
The nurses’ association has already circulated a letter to the minister and the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health outlining its concerns. Another missive will also be submitted to both the PSC and the Establishment Division within the coming days.