TT Registered Nurses’ Association President Idi Stuart is commending government for asking the Cuban government for additional intensive-care unit (ICU) nurses to aid local nurses in the fight against covid19.
But he cautioned the ministry to ensure the nurses were qualified.
Speaking at Monday’s media briefing, health minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the ministry had reached out to the government for more ICU nurses to further alleviate the shortage of local nurses trained in that speciality.
“There was a shortage of ICU nurses globally and in TT even before the pandemic. This is why we reached out to Cuba and got 11 ICU nurses, who have trained 150 nurses locally. We reached out again because we still don’t have enough. We know there will be this narrative that the nurses will take away local jobs, but it’s not true,” Deyalsingh said.
Stuart said while he commends the government for getting more Cuban nurses to ease the currently overburdened nurses, the long-term solution was to train local nurses properly in the intensive-care field. He also expressed concern over the level of training of the first cohort of nurses.
“We do not believe they were actually ICU nurses that were brought to TT in this last cohort of Cuban nurses. So we would hope whoever goes and evaluates them would ensure they are ICU nurses and they don’t become just another burden on our resources, because they are being paid at a higher premium rate.
"The (local) nurses who are working in ICU are realising the Cuban nurses are not actually ICU nurses, they are basic general nurses who would have spent some time as all nurses do in their training, in the ICU department. It’s not that they’re trained in ICU.
"And that really brings no relief to our healthcare system.”
Stuart said if the ministry just wanted to hire more nurses, there was a large cadre of local nursing personnel who were at home awaiting employment.