Gratuity outstanding since 2015, and overtime payments to employees with the Division of Health would be paid as soon as funds become available, Health Secretary Dr Agatha Carrington said last Wednesday.
Responding to questions at the post Executive Council media briefing at the Victor E Bruce Financial Complex in Scarborough, Carrington said a substantial amount was owing in gratuities but did not give a figure.
“Because we’ve inherited a circumstance that is not normally the case, in terms of how you treat with benefits…gratuity forms part of those benefits that a person should be paid but over time that has not been paid and so we have a substantial amount to be paid.
“We have paid in the most part up to 2015. There is a commitment to pay from 2015 and continuing, however that depends on the availability of the funding at this time. We are pursuing that to ensure that we can meet our commitment to our employees…in a little time, we would be able to tell them in terms of when the next payments would be …” she said.
On overtime payments which “were due,” Carrington said:
“That too we have looked at and we would seek to make good on those payments. In areas where there is overtime, we have tried to put some controls in place such that we are able to meet our commitments as and when we are required to do so.”
Carrington also denied there was a shortage of doctors and nurses at the Scarborough General Hospital.
“I don’t know who is telling you, but we don’t have a shortage of staffing on any of our wards,” she said to reporters.
“If you compare hospitals this size with the services provided, we do not have (shortages of doctors and nurses). If you have persons who have been sent to training for instance - unplanned - and people have gone off for different reasons, if somebody were to fall sick and that kind of thing, for short-arrangements but it is not correct to say we’re short-staffed, we have more than the number of nurses required for this 100-bed hospital, hence the reason why we have not been able to recruit the several nurses that we have on the list.
“We’ve recruited just about 20 or so within the last year, the younger nurses, but we’ve not been able to do much more than that because we do have more staff than we can carry,” she said, adding that there were 72 persons on the waiting list to be hired.
Carrington said almost 90 per cent of the hospital’s budget was in Human Resources.
“There is no vacancy, you cannot just hire. This is understanding that nursing is not the only group of professionals that you have to hire… we can’t do what we can’t do. We can’t just hire as many as we have already done… each ward… you would see how many you would find on each shift; just walk it and you would see. The workload drives the number of persons to do it and a workload analysis would show you that our numbers are quite high.”