Hospital services

Staff shortage as nurses leave hospital wards – Searchlight

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by Bria King

The local nursing sector is experiencing one of the highest attrition rates ever, as Vincentian nurses choose to resign their positions to seek greener pastures abroad due to poor conditions hard work and a lack of respect on the pitch.

Nearly 60 nurses are reported to have resigned from hospital wards in 2021 for a variety of reasons, and SEARCHLIGHT understands that the issue continues to permeate the Ministry of Health, with a handful of nurses submitting their resignations every week.

It is also understood that some of these nurses are then recruited to work overseas in countries such as the UK and the US.

“The physical conditions; the locks are deplorable, the offices of nurses’ stations sometimes have woodlice and all those little things, not the right beds,” a nurse who emigrated to work in England recently told SEARCHLIGHT.

For this graduate nurse, poor working conditions and the attitude of senior nurses contributed to her decision to leave Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

And she thinks these are the same reasons other nurses are also submitting their resignations.

From her experience working at Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, she explained that nurses often have to use empty boxes to position patients according to their condition because most beds are not in working order.

She also noted that locally, there is usually one nurse and one auxiliary nurse assigned to care for 30 patients, which does not allow for adequate individualized care.

“If you have 30 patients it is difficult for you to grasp the needs that are really affected compared to when you have 10 and 7 and 6,” the nurse said, explaining that in England she works in a ward with 10 patients. , which allows each patient to receive the appropriate care and attention.

SEARCHLIGHT was able to obtain an official report this week that highlighted the state of attrition in major healthcare facilities in this country.

Poor working conditions are the first reason described in the report for why nurses continue to quit the local nursing sector.

Other reasons cited include: lack of staff, which has “worn them out”; unavailability and often shortage of supplies leading to frustration in performing simple tasks/procedures; and a low salary compared to other regions.

The report notes that a total of 58 nurses resigned in 2021 from hospital services: 37 resigned from their posts, 21 nurses received abandonment letters due to the government’s vaccination mandate and five nursing aides also left. because of the vaccination policy.

So far for 2022 there have been at least 17 resignations – the majority of which are from Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

At the country’s main hospital, six bedside nurses and four orderlies have quit.

There have been six resignations – two nurses and four nursing assistants – from the Modern Medical and Diagnostic Centre.

A staff nurse has resigned from the Lewis Punnett Home.

“If people are comfortable and the spirits are comfortable, they wouldn’t go anywhere. Training must be put in place for these service managers. These managers must know how to speak, they must above all know how to listen. Some of them don’t take the time to listen,” said the Vincentian nurse who emigrated to England.

Another Vincentian nurse currently employed in England told SEARCHLIGHT she was employed through the SET scheme before seeking employment overseas.

Her nursing colleagues, who have also gone through a similar journey, complain that senior nurses often treat them with disrespect and “treat them like children, talk to them anyway…”

Statistics from the UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) show that as of September 30, 2021, there were a total of 41 people registered in England, who were trained initially in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

SEARCHLIGHT understands that NMC statistics are updated every six months.

The figure recorded at the end of September 2021 is 25 more than what was recorded just six months earlier at the end of March.

Although physical conditions in healthcare facilities have improved markedly, nurses who migrated to the UK attest to working 12-hour shifts and sometimes experiencing subtle racism from patients and colleagues.

These nurses also noted that contrary to popular belief, salaries abroad are not significantly different from what is offered locally.

On average, nurses are paid a base salary of just over £2,000, and working extra shifts on weekends and public holidays will likely earn them between £300 and £600 more.

But after taxes, rent, food, transportation and other expenses, there is little left.

“I know people who have husbands or children who are here and who are living very hard because their husbands are here, they don’t work and they are the sole breadwinner and they have children,” he said. a nurse told SEARCHLIGHT.

“A lot of them say they’re sorry, but a lot of them don’t want to go back because one; they’re gonna be like ‘oh they’re gone and -‘; they are afraid of the shame and of what people will say, of the perception that people will have.

Another nurse said she is currently in the process of applying for her US visa and intends to take her US entrance exam so she can work there once her current contract is in the UK expired in December 2023.

About 419 staff positions have been budgeted at several health facilities, including Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, Lewis Punnett Home, Modern Medical and Diagnostic Center, Georgetown Smart Hospital and Arygle Isolation Facility.

The official report obtained by SEARCHLIGHT indicates at least 78 vacancies as of March 24, 2022.

The Ministry of Health published a press release two Fridays ago asking nurses and nursing assistants to “appear urgently” at the permanent secretariat of the ministry, if they were interested in a job.

The call for nurses and caregivers remains open to this day.