President of the TT Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) Idi Stuart believes the guideline issued by Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) interim CEO Westly Orr to review and rescind leave for staff, should be done on a case-by-case basis.
On Tuesday, Orr sent an e-mail to managers, heads of department and supervisors to address issues arising from the covid19 pandemic, and announcements at the March 14 media conference by the Minister of Labour.
Speaking with Newsday on Wednesday, Stuart said he appreciated TRHA and any of the other RHAs, finally providing some information to their employees, adding that since this outbreak very little information had been provided to staff.
In the memo, managers, heads of departments and supervisors were advised to review all approved leave and, where possible, rescind such leave and make arrangements for the leave at a later date. Stuart said the rescinding of leave is a very contentious issue.
“There is a significant number of nurses who are already burnt-out having been working continuously after being denied vacation for two to three years. A nurse is of no benefit to the healthcare setting if she or he is feeling exhausted.
"Therefore, you will need an opportunity to replenish burnt out staff with staff coming off leave,” he said adding that nurses internationally who are treating with this crisis, are already complaining about feeling exhausted.
“Thereby open to making more mistakes,” he said.
In the memo, Orr noted while pandemic leave is not yet official, the normal leave provisions should apply for employees who are absent from duty.
In response, Stuart said nurses have been repeatedly told that pandemic leave is not applicable to the RHAs.
“So the TTRNA, while optimistic, will be cautious in accepting this position by the TRHA.”
Stuart said the other guidelines given by the TRHA to manage staff made sense.
“The measures are reasonable, particularly stopping travel.”