In less than two months, over forty nurses have left the island’s public health system for more lucrative opportunities abroad.
Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton, made the revelation while speaking at a virtual COVID-19 press on Tuesday (February 23) briefing where he laid out the governments plans to deal with the recent spike in hospitalization.
In addition to needing more COVID beds, the minister noted that the country also needed more nurses among other medical practitioners.
Tufton explained that brain drain was in part responsible for the gaping hole in the system, as it relates to staffing, noting that there has been an increase in the recruiting of local professionals, in particular nurses.
“The hiring of additional staff for us is extremely important and comes against a background of
shortages. Not just because of expanded usage of our staff, based on the new numbers of COVID, but also because the mass recruitment of public health practitioners, and in particular nurses, by neighbors, neighboring countries, has been increasing,” said Tufton.
“And I’ll give you one example to support my claim. Yesterday at the University Hospital of the West Indies, I inquired about the nursing shortage that they have, which they were explaining to me. And one of the reasons given for the shortage was that between January of this year, to date, in February, less than two months, that institution has lost some 42 public nurses working there; who have migrated to other jurisdictions, based on more attractive offers that have been given,” added Tufton.
Tufton explained that the migration of nurses to greener pastures has placed additional strain on Jamaica’s already fragile public health system.
According to Tufton, the ministry has already began a recruitment drive, as it seeks out ways to deal with the increased pressure on the health care system created by the recent spike in hospitalizations.
The minister also used the occasion to encourage those who might have retired from the system or, who are not already in the field and are qualified to get involved, even if it is only a temporary basis.
“So I want to encourage at this time, given the challenges that we face, persons who qualify
as nurses, specialists, nurses, and others who would like to join the public health team, even on a temporary basis to contact your regional the regional authority or your parish office,” said Tufton.
” That includes persons who may have retired, who still have the energy and the interests would like to bring them back on board at least for a period of time to deal with the challenges that we face,” added Tufton.