Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association seeks legal action against North Central Regional Health Authority

CATEGORY | PSA News | All News Items

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association Idi Stuart says that the blame should not be placed on vaccine-hesitant citizens, for nurses being burnt out. Instead, he said nurses should be allowed their requisite time off.

PSA Media spoke with Mr. Stuart on Wednesday following one nurse’s chilling account of what really happens on covid-19 ICU wards in Trinidad and Tobago. He explained that with cases again on the rise, the North Central Regional Health Authority has already started limiting vacations. Adding that nurses have been burnt out long before the pandemic, he said covid-19 lent them no favors.

“The sheer volume of work would cause anyone to be burnt out…. There was actually hold on allowing nursing personal to go on any form of leave. Finally, there was some reprieve when numbers came down, however, with this resurgence of cases, we are already seeing where the authority is beginning to give two lines in terms of how much persons could go on vacation,” Stuart expressed.

At the Ministry of Health’s covid-19 media briefing, Nurse Josette Bethel-Smith said ICU nurses are now being traumatized by the loss of their patients after fighting hard to save their lives.

Noting that each person has the right to make an informed decision about the covid-19 vaccine, he said that ICU and HDU admissions should not overflow into the traditional health care system and if so…that would be the consequence of the individual.

He further stated, “They are making an informed decision, we would hope, to refuse the vaccine, so it cannot be that the entire country should be held back because these persons eventually end up in our ICU and HDU because they don’t have that added layer of protection. It’s their choice, so if ICU and HDU in the covid unit are being filled it should not overflow into the general healthcare setting. If it is overflowing, then those persons would have already made their choice.”

In what some may call the second leg of the pandemic, Mr Stuart added that we are now beginning to see nurses succumbing to the virus, and as such, self-preservation is important. Just last month, Mr. Stuart went on record to say that nurses are not equipped for a spike in cases, especially with the more transmissible delta variant.

He told PSA media, “If they have to decide to take emergency leave, then so be it….and what we saw, for the first year, not a single nurse died of covid-19 and unfortunately, within the second half of the battle, we are seeing nurses dying from covid-19 now, so it is not a matter of pushing back, but self-preservation”

When asked if nursing students are being used to assist on covid-19 wards, Mr. Stuart said that the association is currently in the process of taking legal action against the north-central regional health authority on this matter as they are unsure if such a move is legal.

“We are unsure if they have the legal authority to hire those nursing students. We have not been able to get sight of any cabinet note, any CPO approval to hire nursing students,” he said as he questioned the terms and conditions under which the nurses are working.

Stuart explained the reason behind taking the legal route and said the Authority is implementing policies without discussions with the union. This he described as autocratic mechanisms and said that it will cost the authority and by large, the country, in the long run.