In an attempt to improve the delivery of public health services in Antigua and Barbuda, plans are being put in place to recruit a number of nurses from Ghana.
Health Minister, Sir Molwyn Joseph, made the announcement to Cabinet during its weekly meeting on Wednesday.
Two weeks ago, Barbados successfully recruited over 100 English-speaking nurses from the West African nation who have been trained to meet US standards and have several years of experience – all characteristics that bode well for their potential introduction into the system here in Antigua and Barbuda.
Local nurses have complained for some time about a lack of staff, and while there is no word yet on the number of nurses that could make their way from Ghana to the twin island nation, the recruitment should go some way to fill the gap.
It is also not clear what stage the recruitment process is at, or when the new nurses will likely arrive in the country – with the report saying only that “the process has started”.
However, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, said the nurses will be assigned to specific medical institutions based upon necessity.
“We anticipate that they will fill some needs but may very likely be dispersed to the clinics as well as to the hospital and the emergency care centre that was established on Nugent Avenue,” he told yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing.
“As you also know, we are building a new renal centre where the Edward Ward once stood at the Holberton Hospital and, in all likelihood, we are going to see some nurses with some competence in that particular area who will be able to assist those who are on dialysis,” Hurst said.
He explained that the government will be “relying heavily on the Barbadian model” to map the way forward in this regard.
Meanwhile, “a consultant is to be brought on board to draft a plan for making the nation’s polyclinics more efficient and better staffed,” the notes from Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting stated.
This is intended to address the issue of many patients heading to the hospital for emergency care when they require urgent care instead.
“The public clinics, therefore, are not being utilised for the purposes intended, because medical practitioners are frequently not present,” the notes added.
However, no timeline was given for when the consultancy would begin, or when the changes will take effect.
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