Some of the island’s trained nurses who migrated to take up employment opportunities overseas may soon be required to return to Jamaica to be employed on a temporary basis through a collaborative programme being formulated by the Government and overseas health institutions.
The disclosure was made on Friday by Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, following a tour of the St Ann’s Bay Hospital in St Ann.
The issue of migration of nurses from Jamaica has proven to be worrisome for stakeholders in the island’s heath sector for quite some time.
Executive Dean at the Caribbean School of Science, Jamaica (CSMSJ), Dr Neville Graham, claimed at the institution’s first graduation ceremony in November last year, that about 85 per cent of nurses migrate after being formally trained locally, and the situation was made even more dire by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fast-forward to March this year, Tufton told Parliament that more than 700 nurses in Jamaica have left for jobs overseas since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In revisiting the issue of migration on Friday, Tufton pointed to how the migration of such healthcare providers was affecting the St Ann’s Bay Hospital.
“My understanding is that there is a staffing issue (here at the hospital). I was told that this hospital loses probably five a month through migration – that’s 60 or so per year for one hospital,” he outlined.
Dr Christopher Tufton (file photo)
“Compare that across the board to all hospitals, then you get a sense of how… much impact migration is having on our staffing,” said Tufton.
To curtail the nursing shortage affecting St Ann’s Bay Hospital and other similar institutions locally, the minister said the Government is moving ahead with its collaborative programme with health facilities overseas.
“We have a programme to try and stem that (nurse migration) by, firstly, improving work conditions by the expansion of our facilities, but also see where we can collaborate with other institutions, including institutions overseas, to bring back some of those staff even on a temporary basis here,” he said.
In noting the pressures on staff locally, Tufton commended the health practitioners who “remain and those in the trenches who are working very hard to ensure that we can continue to provide the service even with the shortages that we have, and even while we try to alleviate the shortages.”