Nurses are operating without health insurance under their current working conditions.
This was revealed by president of the TT Registered Nurses Association Idi Stuart who was responding to a nurses’s health condition after it was reported that part of a ceiling collapsed on her last week at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said last Friday that the nurse was never injured as the ceiling never touched her.
However, Stuart said this was not so, adding that the nurse would have had to fill out an incident form, whether or not she had any external bruising.
He said the nurse, identity withheld, had extended her five-day sick leave after being traumatised when reports indicated she may be lying about the incident and her injures.
“They are basically calling her a liar so she is traumatised. We are focussing on her getting a neurological exam which is outstanding This would establish that all her faculties and movements are up to par. They were supposed to have done that for her, but it seems they have forgotten her
“It looks like they have come to their own conclusion and while she is not seeking legal action and even if she does not want to, we will be seeking legal action. We are fed up of nursing personnel injured in the workplace and not only they don’t get compensation from their employer, but they penalise you by classifying it as sick leave and not injury leave so they lose their days
“If a nurse comes down with an infectious disease... maybe chicken pox...they would have to stay away from work for two weeks and lose their sick days. The nurse could not prove that they contracted the disease on the ward,” Stuart said.
He said the RHAs were mandated to have risk insurance, but nurses were not compensated. He said while daily-paid workers including grounds staff and kitchen staff had insurance, monthly-paid workers did not.
Stuart said most nursing staff did not even have contracts.
“The NCRHA (North Central Regional Health Authority) started a new initiative where they are paying nurses by the day. This was the brainchild by the current CEO (Davlin Thomas) so they are paid by day at a lower rate. They have no benefits and if they stay home when they are sick they are not paid.
“Nurses do not get permanent employment, that is something of the past. You would not dream that a policeman would be given a one-year contract or a fireman given a six-month contract, but that is happening to nursing now,” he said.
He said the NCRHA had a Big Brother initiative to give screenings to servicemen who already had health insurance and were given first priority while seeking treatment whereas nurses had to sit on a bench “like everybody else”.
Stuart said daily-paid nurses had to work twice as hard as nurses who had contracts because they had no benefits, and would also work at a lower hourly rate.
He said junior nurses had to work between 60-65 hours to earn half as much as a full fledged nurse.
“People are dying unnecessarily because of shortage of staff at the NCRHA in particular. They hire people straight out of school and when a mistake occurs they fire them, suspend them or pull in somebody else. There is no obligation to keep them, there is no contract. Fire them, bring in somebody else, that is where we have reached as nurses,” Stuart said.