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Brandy-Williams calls for more investment in nurses

By: Staff Reporter,

CHARLESTOWN, Nevis - AS the Federation joined the rest of the world to recognise yesterday (May 12) as International Nurses Day, calls were made for more investment and attention to be placed on nurses across the Federation to prevent burnout. Nevis’ Junior Minister of Health, Hazel Brandy-Williams reminded that 60 percent of the almost 28 million global healthcare workers are nurses, and that they are critical to the healthcare system in the Federation and across the world.

It is against that backdrop she noted that “we strengthen and invest in our nursing workforce”. “We must invest in our nurses as leaders, advocates and innovators as this is critical to ensuring that they are equipped to guide, lead and be role models for the future of nursing in Nevis and the Federation as a whole,” she urged. She continued: “We must invest in our nurses so that they have the necessary skills to do their jobs. Professional competency is linked with empowerment and the delivery of quality patient care. Not only that, but studies have also shown that a supportive and empowering work environment provides nurses’ retention, job performance and reduces burnout.” In the Federation, there is significant concern about the level of active nurses as the Government has over the last several years called for more people to join the profession, including males.

This shortage raised concerns of burnout, especially during the COVID-19 period, and the Ministry of Health was forced to rehire retired nurses to assist during the peak of the pandemic. On Nevis, Brandy-Williams assured the nursing community that the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) has committed its fullest support to “invest in nursing as a means of building a resilient and highly qualified workforce”. Assurances were also expressed by the Leader of the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, Dr. Terrance Drew, on his social media page. “On this occasion of International Nurses Day, I wish to say our nurses that I stand with you, I support you and appreciate your service. I stand ready to take care of the issues and concerns that you have. As a medical doctor, I truly understand and value your contributions and also know quite well that you share the vision in seeing to the betterment of our health sector.” When it comes to investing in the profession, Minister Brandy-Williams said that “it must be done with consideration being made for “present and future health challenges such as emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases”.

She was alluding to the growing threat and burden posed by the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), an aging population, and health challenges associated with climate change. NCDS are the leading cause of death in the Federation, such as cancer, heart attack and high blood pressure.

In her 2021 Budget presentation, former Health Minister Wendy Phipps told the National Assembly that between 2014-2019, 235 people had cancer. She noted that cancer patients require care that is often provided by the nurses, and that 173 persons with heart diseases and 127 diabetics had died during that period. Currently, there are just over 150 registered nurses in the Federation, and efforts are being made by the Federal Government to increase the number.

It was stated that one such way to achieve an increase, is for the Government to provide the necessary training for those who have to sit the regional exams and also those who might have failed. In an effort to ensure that more persons join the profession and to retain those who are there, the Government had increased their incentives significantly.

“Right now, as it is, the nurses are receiving the highest remuneration within the public service system. Nurses who successfully completed their Degree, pass their Licensure Exam and all the regional examinations are now being remunerated at the Degree Scale at K83 and higher,” Minister of Health Akilah Byron-Nisbett told SKNVibes News.

The 2022 International Nurses Day was recognised under the theme: “Nurses: A Voice to Lead – Invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health.”

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