Nurses deserve priority attention

The headline told the story.

The Freeport News’ lead story on Tuesday was a sad testimony to how stalwarts of the nation’s essential services are being treated. The litany of complaints made public by Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams was quite sobering.

Minister Dr. Duane Sands, who sits in the Cabinet as the government’s point person for health, has a lot to address. Certainly, on principle, he should respond to the BNU chief. Her revelations about the conditions the nurses have to work under would evoke sympathy in all well-meaning Bahamians.

Williams spoke of internal day-to-day circumstances that are atrocious. Those who subject our nurses to the conditions disclosed by Williams must be merciless. She informed of a shift system that creates more havoc and is certainly not a smooth flow, at all. They are expected to work for $1 per hour, on midnight shifts as well.

There is a great concern about the work load, the number of patients, per nurse and in general shabby treatment.
“They want to pay a professional $1 per hour. You are coming out of your house at midnight to do a shift” to face possible dangers to go to work for just $1 per hour, Williams lamented.

“The ratio for (patients to be attended) is 1-5, but you give me 15. You are doubling (the amount) I should take care of. What more do you want to do to us? You are not paying me. You are overworking me. You are causing me to make drug errors. You are causing me to forget certain things that I’m supposed to do for my patients.

‘How am I then expected to provide quality care and sit down and talk with the patients, love them, groom them, give them medication, and comfort their family as well? I cannot do that with 15 patients coming in with high blood pressure, renal disease, diabetes,” said Williams.

She further protested that the requirements of one patient is taxing and 15 is too much for one nurse to handle.
What she has made public is an indictment against the health system. It is quite a serious matter. She has exposed a situation that had long been rumored, that patients do not get proper care in the government health system.

Surely, Dr. Sands should respond to the many allegations made by BNU President Williams. This issue ought not be swept under the rug. If Williams and her nursing colleagues stick to their guns, Dr. Sands and his Cabinet colleagues would have little choice but to reach some sort of compromise.

The nurses deserve as much.

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