Dr Khan: Nursing workforce stretched to the limit

The original article can be found in: Trinidad Newsday By LARA PICKFORD-GORDON

Although the training of nurses is now under the Ministry of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, the Health Ministry has gotten Cabinet approval to continue with two of its training programmes, because of the current severe nursing shortage.

Minister of Tertiary Education, Fazal Karim, yesterday said Cabinet approved the continuation of Basic Education Nursing (BEN) under the health ministry’s school of nursing and midwifery for two years from January 2013.

The annual intake for The BEN programme will be 200 students.

Speaking at the post-Cabinet media briefing, Karim also said there would be an annual intake of 200 students for the enrolled nursing programme, 60 students for midwifery training, and 30 students for direct entry midwifery training. There will be an intake of 60 students for the Registered Mental Health Nurse programme, 20 for the post-basic nursing education programme. This will cost $14.82 million.

Karim said a District Health Visitor programme under the University of the West Indies/Ministry of Health had started, and was costing $1.5 million.

“Subsequent programmes in terms of the DHV programme will be conducted through the joint facility at the El Dorado Nurses training facility which will be opened in January under the auspices and management of the University of the West Indies, and COSTATT.”

The facility is being upgraded at a cost of $18.9 million and Karim said it was almost ready. In July, the Tertiary Education Ministry was assigned responsibility for training nurses.

However, Karim said Health Minister, Dr Fuad Khan, advised that the ministry was facing a nursing shortage in all areas.

Karim said the vacancy rate for the health sector indicates a shortage of 583 registered nurses, 378 registered nurses and midwives, 148 midwives, 1,094 enrolled nursing assistants. Karim said, “these shortages as Minister Khan and myself have agreed have resulted in the inability of the ministry to plan and implement nursing interventions in keeping with accepted international standards. Additionally, the existing nursing workforce is being stretched to the limit to fulfill all the necessary duties.”

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