President of Appointees of the Nursing Council of TT David Murphy has assured former students that the delay in the release of their exam results is being addressed post-haste despite the litigation surrounding the council.
A nursing exam candidate recently wrote to Newsday expressing her concern for candidates from the various schools of nursing including COSTAATT, University of the Southern Caribbean, University of the West Indies-School of Nursing, and the Ministry of Health’s School of Nursing.
She said they wrote the Regional Examination for Nursing Registration (RENR) on October 3, 2019 after paying a fee to the Nursing Council. She said the candidates were told results would be out within six to eight weeks of the exam but over 14 weeks have passed without the results or word about when it would be rectified. Meanwhile all the other Caribbean islands received their results within the stipulated time.
She said the Nursing Council of TT was contacted and the candidates were told because of the court matter involving the council there was a backlog of work to be done since April, and there was no one to authorise payments to Caribbean Examinations Committee (CXC) in Barbados to release the results.
“Hundreds of students are at home, awaiting the results to be able to apply for work. Currently even a job as a home-care assistant is hard to get because the students have no documentation proving they are trained as professionals... We are pleading to have our results released.”
Murphy agreed that the council was going through its own “difficult period” but said that in October Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh appointed six people to the council for it to become quorate.
“The council would have had its signatories on the previous council but if they are no longer members of the council, they have no authority to sign any cheque on behalf of the Nursing Council because it would be illegal. The council is in the process of seeking to ensure that the signatories to the account would be changed. It’s not that the council doesn’t have money.”
He said the council has an appointment with its bank on Tuesday to change the signatories to those approved by the council. He said once the bank gives its approval, the cheque to CXC and to whomever else the council owes money would be signed immediately once all the signatories were in the country. After that results should be received within days.
“It is unfortunate that the candidates would have gone through this difficult period but it is the reality that, if they were following the news of all of the nonsense out there, they would know that is what created the difficulty. But we are doing all in our power to get the signatories changed.”
He said he attempted to negotiate with CXC to send the results bearing in mind payment would be coming soon but CXC did not agree. Murphy said he was disappointed at the organisation’s negative response because CXC had always had a good relationship with the council.
He said the good news was that CXC now had a TT account so the council could simply deposit the payment at Republic Bank instead of having the delay of paying in Barbados currency.
However, Murphy said since the results were “only one month later than the normal time” candidates should have patience and bear with the council.
“This cannot be made an issue because it is not that they are suffering at all. Because when the results come out it takes a little while because then they would have to get their licence to practice. And if they are smart enough, and I know they are smart enough, they will realise right now in our country nurses are not getting the kind of employment they would have gotten in the past. So it’s not a question of us depriving them of a job either.”
TT Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) president Idi Stuart explained that the council’s term was supposed to be from April 2016 to 2019. He said Murphy did not call elections of the council and continued to hold office. In mid-2019 members voted no confidence in Murphy and he took the council to court.
High Court judge Justice Frank Seepersad heard the matter in September and declared the council null and void.
Seepersad also recommended the Health Minister appoint the six people usually appointed to the council by the minister, as well as one ex-officio member in the interim to manage the council’s affairs.
“From then till October there was no council in place so there was nobody to pay CXC the funds required and that caused the practical leg of the local examinations for general nurses to be postponed. For the psychiatric nurses, TT runs that exam for themselves, that exam too had to be cancelled,” Stuart said.
He said Deyalsingh re-appointed Murphy so the TTRNA issued a pre-action protocol letter to the Health Minister.
Stuart said the president of the council is supposed to be elected by the nurses and mid-wives but in the absence of the other nine elected members, Murphy was selected as the new president of the appointees of the Nursing Council. In addition, he said the seven members selected from among themselves who will fill all of the positions of the council.
The case of Murphy against the council is set to be heard on February 10.