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Nurses willing to come home

CLINT CHAN TACK Monday, March 29 2004

A SIGNIFICANT number of Caribbean nurses residing in North America and the United Kingdom are willing to come to Trinidad and Tobago to fill critical shortages in the health sector. This was the information yesterday from top Government officials who also revealed that a team of senior personnel from the Health Ministry and the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) is being established “to develop, oversee and implement” a programme aimed specifically at recruitment of retired nurses of Caribbean nationality from the UK, Canada and the USA. Earlier this month, Health Minister John Rahael revealed that Government was looking to North America and the UK for nurses to fill 1,000 vacancies in the public sector. Since then, health sources said, officials of the  North-West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) have held discussions with TT High Commissioner to Canada, Arnold Piggott, and T Consulate General in New York, Terrance Walker and informal contact has been made with prospective nurses.

“The general feedback from the RHAs and the Health Ministry is that there may well be a significant number of Caribbean nurses who now reside in North America and the UK, who if given the right combination of terms and conditions, will be willing to take up employment on contract for varying periods in this country,” the officials said. Given the acute shortages of nursing personnel, the need to actively explore the possibility of recruiting Caribbean nationals who are trained and registerable as nurses from the UK, Canada and USA is a necessity at this time.” hey said the financial outlay for the recruitment of such nurses, considering the salaries/allowances now payable for full-time Cuban nurses and including likely recruitment/interview expenses, is estimated at an average annual cost of $15.5 million.

The officials said it was likely that “nurses coming from abroad may prefer part-time/sessional employment, which will lower the estimated annual outlay on salaries/allowances.” hese nurses will fill vacancies in neonatal nursing, intensive care and cardiac surgery. mong the steps being taken by Government to address nursing shortages in TT are increasing the Health Ministry’s intake of nurse trainees to 500 er annum at year’s end, recruitment of 41 additional Cuban nurses and a further 25 intensive care unit nurses by mid-2004 and establishment of a national centre for nurses’ training “with a view, among other things to building capacity for an annual intake of over 500 basic trainee nurses.”

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