On Sunday an article was posted in the Newsday stating that over 100 nurses had left the healthcare system seeking better employment opportunities abroad. This was according to the second vice-president of the TT Registered Nurses Association Letitia Cox.
According to Cox recruiters from the United Kingdom, Canada and US have been taking nurses from the Caribbean and Trinidad due to their excellent training.
“There has been a drastic uptick in recruitment since the pandemic. These countries are severely short-staffed and have been recruiting nurses to empower their healthcare systems which have been overwhelmed by increased infections of covid19 patients.”
She stated that the nurses were leaving because in TT there was little opportunity for promotion, no job security as many were on short-term contracts, and, for many, the pay did not keep up with the cost of living.
However, in a media conference on Wednesday Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh claimed that more nurses had been hired to meet the shortfall in medical institutions. Cox claims that the number of nurses hired is not reflected by the numbers in accident and emergency departments at public hospitals.
In the press conference, the minister stated that there were a number of new nurses who would have been hired, some who retired and others who transferred from one regional health authority to another.
Even so, following the minister’s statements outraged nurses contacted the association to find out where the new nurses were employed.
Cox stated that many of the nurses expressed concern that the 40 Cuban nurses who were signed on by the minister would have better packages with larger salaries and more perks as did all preceding foreign nurses.
In an example given by Cox, she said foreign nurses received a monthly $2,500 housing allowance while local nurses receive a $100 living allowance.
In response to the article posted on Sunday, Deyalsingh stated that people would leave places of employment for a variety of reasons, and in the case of nurses, it could be because they moved from one RHA to another where they resign from one and go to another.
However, Cox restated that the number she quoted was a specific estimate of nurses who resigned in order to migrate.
Deyalsingh further gave a breakdown of the number of nurses who left the public health system this year. He stated that in the Eastern RHA, 12 nurses left but 94 were hired for a net gain of 82.
At the North Central RHA, 46 left but 89 were hired for a net gain of 43; at the North West RHA, 216 left and 285 were hired for a net gain of 69; and at the South West RHA, 59 left and 284 hired for a net gain 225.
“They are happy to hear they (the RHAs) have gained all these additional staff members but they are asking please, wherever he (Deyalsingh) is hiding the additional net staff to please send them on the wards and the accident and emergency. They have not seen them yet and need them now, please,” said Cox.