Health and Wellness Minister Kevin Bernard today met with nurses and other healthcare workers of the Southern Regional Hospital. The meeting comes a day after nurses, doctors and other medical personnel walked out in protest against inadequate working conditions, unfair treatment and unfair salary deductions. Since the walkout yesterday, the Nurses Association of Belize (NAB), the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the Ministry of Labour came to several agreements: “Overtime hours” mode of calculation has been updated, where the timesheet will include monthly hours worked and monthly overtime hours worked. The calculation of the overtime payment will be done every month versus weekly. Short hour deductions which occurred for the August 2022 pay period will be reverted to all staff as an “interest-free advance” and will be paid before the 9th of September 2022. Reconciliation will occur for the next pay period on any discrepancies which may have occurred due to the previous calculations done. The tool for the calculation of sick leave and vacation leave will be reviewed by the Ministry of Finance along with the technical staff of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, in coordination with the Association, to standardize countrywide. According to Minister Bernard, today’s meeting was fruitful.
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness: “I think it was a very good meeting this morning. I think that we were able to make notes. Of course we are here to listen to the concerns given by the staff, some very valid concerns and I think we have to address, some in the immediate and some others as we go along to put these things in place. Amazingly, you know, we are able to allow them to express themselves openly. That’s what I was here for, to get them to talk and explain what is it that they have concerns, many issues that are affecting them here. And we are prepared to go in and make those corrections. And so I think that we had a very fruitful meeting and I would like to thank them for coming out and being part of this very important meeting. Of course there’s the issues of shortage of staff, lack of RN, lack of security and we’re going to work on those staff needs. We took note of all of those issues. There are certain things that are quick fixes that could have been done administratively and I think that, sadly, we had to come to his point. But, we are going to address that matter from the ministry level and we are prepared to ensure that the staff continuously works in a conducive environment. We have to improve if we expect them to provide quality service then we must also ensure that they are working in a conducive environment.”
Reporter: So from the meeting at the end of the day with the nurses, did they leave happy?
Kevin Bernard, Minister of Health & Wellness: “I believe the nurses they are all happy.”
Labor Minister Oscar Requena and his CEO Valentino Sho met with nurses in other parts of the country.