Marlene Augustine - Monda y, August 7 2017
President of the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nursing Association (TTRNA) Idi Stewart said they are giving the Government until August monthend to pay all stipends owed to nursing students.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Stewart said the government was currently cutting back in a number of areas related to nursing which is having a negative impact on the health sector.
Stewart said University of the Southern Caribbean (USC) nursing students have not been paid their stipends since July 2016, and they are giving the government a deadline to address the issue.
“Their stipend is $800 per month and they are refusing to pay this amount to the students.
We are basically saying we cannot accept that the government does not have money to pay $800 a month when one consultant within the institution who works for only two hours a day sometimes on average, they are paid in excess of $50,000 a month. But they can’t pay a nursing student. One consultant salary can pay all the nursing students from USC, and in COSTAATT put together.
He said if they are not paid at the end of the month, the students are prepared to go outside the Ministry of Education Towers and logged their dissatisfaction.
“Nurses will support them because the nurses need the students, and the stipend is used to buy their books, uniforms and even help them travel to come to the wards. It will only grow from there. We already have another major issue of shortage of nurses in the country.” Stewart said the government used to hire CARICOM nurses over the years from St Vincent, Grenada, and Cuba, and since taken a decision to stop all those contracts with the workers from those countries.
“Each registered nurse has less people to work with, in addition the students which help with the shortage of nursing staff and who work on the ward to get the experience, the government has taken the decision to stop paying nursing students their stipend.
Now all the incoming batches will not get that stipend which is essential.” Stewart added, the wards are normally supplemented by pool staff (extra duty staff ) and this to has also been cut back by the government.
He said the stipend is to assist students through the four year programme, and one of the reason for the stipend in the beginning of the programme was to attract people into the profession.
“With the shortage of nurses patient care has already been compromised with the safety of patients because generally you want one registered nurse to four patient, on the medical ward you need to have one to four or one to six is the maximum. Anything over that it causes significant disruption.
The nurses are not even close to one to six or one to seven. We are looking at 20 to one.”