As part of ongoing protests, TT Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) president Idi Stuart said he will be instructing nurses to withdraw from duties which are not in their job specifications.
He said this will include tending patients in RHA ambulances, which he claimed were uninsured. He also said there was no risk insurance for the nurses should they be injured while in the ambulances.
“We will be informing all our members of all the issues related to the ambulance service. We will be demanding the police commissioner gets involved, because you cannot have an ambulance without having that ambulance licence. So those vehicles are operating illegally and the CoP has a duty to investigate and make sure those illegal activities come to a screeching halt, otherwise he would be negligent in his duty.
"We will be updating members and expecting no nurses to be travelling on those inter-facility vehicles that have the word 'ambulance' on them with flashing lights.”
Stuart said the measure is being taken because the government does not seem to care about nurses and midwives, even though the World Health Organization had declared 2020 the year of nurses and midwives, and especially as there is a pandemic going on. He said all other countries are recognising the role nurses and midwives play.
“All Caribbean islands up the islands are giving nurses a hazard allowance or some sort of tax rebate or something, except TT.”
NCRHA CEO Davlin Thomas said unfortunately Stuart had decided to go along the route of misinformation. He said the NCRHA had an enhanced workmen’s compensation package that covers individual liability to the extent of $10 million, which they have had for two years.
“The nurses are covered under insurance the NCRHA took out for all workers, that has a total liability for an individual, and that is workmen’s compensation plus. That’s a serious commitment to staff which came about after discussion with the unions, PSA and TTRNA, though Stuart wasn’t on the scene then.
"This is a situation where these are people we are working with, he is trying to create a 'we and them' situation. But there is no 'them,' the NCRHA stands at the side of the nurses we work alongside.”
He said the NCRHA’s ambulances are insured and licensed to operate on the road.
“What Stuart is talking about is the emergency ambulances, which is specific to GMRTT. We don’t run an emergency ambulance service, they don’t respond to emergencies like GMRTT, NCRHA has inter-hospital transfers, so you wouldn’t see an NCRHA ambulance going to someone’s house to pick them up in an emergency situation.”
SWRHA CEO Brian Armour said he was not in a position to comment. He said the health ministry was aware of the concerns raised by Stuart.
GMRTT CEO Paul Anderson said GMRTT has been contracted by the health ministry to operate the emergency ambulance service of Trinidad. He said the company hires emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics to do that.
“That is separate from any ambulance operated by an RHA. We are licensed as both the basic life support and advanced life support ambulance service. All our ambulances are owned by us and are insured.
"Anything referring to the RHAs and their ambulances and what their representative ambulance services, whether they are licensed or insured, who operates them and works on them, that has nothing to do with GMRTT and I am not representing myself (as) any form of information source on anything pertaining to the RHAs and their ambulances.”