PRESIDENT of the Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) Idi Stewart is calling on CEO of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) Davlin Thomas to ensure a minimum staff-to-patients ratio at this RHA and at least to the level approved by the Ministry of Health.
Stewart said hospitals under the NCRHA are in a crisis and critical stage because there is not sufficient staff to monitor patients. Stewart said the NCRHA actually has less nursing staff than the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA), though the ERHA has only one major hospital and the NCRHA has several. He said the Ministry of Health approved 683 nurses per RHAs but at present, there are only 447 in the NCRHA.
“Our main issue right now is the crisis in the NCRHA in terms of staffing. It is really terrible right now and due to the short level of staffing it is placing patients’ lives at risk in terms of not enough nursing personnel on the wards.”
Not only are they short-staffed, Stewart said, “but the staff they do have on duty are junior nurses. The RHAs are refusing to hire nursing personnel. We are not sure where the funds that are allocated from the Ministry of Health is going, but it is certainly not being used to hire nursing staff.” Stewart said the shortage of staff in the clinical setting has additionally served to cause significant burnout and demotivation amongst nursing staff, which negatively affects the quality of care delivered by the NCRHA. He also said it will have an impact on the population’s health status for which the health sector reform programme was intended. “We have a precarious position right now where nurses are bombarding us with calls that they are the only nurse on the ward, the only registered nurse on the ward, and 24-5 patients they have to see about.
“There are patients who are dying on them. The nurses are becoming frustrated, because there is no way a nurse can monitor these critically ill patients with one nurse on the ward. There are supposed to be one to four or one to five; we have one to 24. There is no logical or possible way a nurse can manage all these patients.”
Stewart said the matter was brought up at the last NCRHA board meeting where the TTRNA provided all the facts and documents showing the NCRHA is at a critically short level of staff. He said the TTRNA also wrote to the Minister of Labour, who remains silent on the matter.
“We were told that she cannot make any comment and she has to be neutral. “I don’t know how a Minister of Labour who has to seek after the interest of the labour fraternity (can) be silent in these times. What is happening with CWU and Petrotrin, is the same thing happening with nurses.” Efforts to reach CEO Thomas for a response proved futile as calls to his office went unanswered.