Tonight, there is the possibility of escalated tensions between Belize’s nurses and the Ministry of Health. As we have been reporting for the last two days, there are several crucial issues that nurses are facing and despite their communication with government officials, there have been no responses. Love News met up with Laura Tucker-Longsworth this morning where she spoke of some of those issues just minutes before she went into a meeting with the Nurses Task Force.
Laura Tucker Longsworth, Chairlady, National AIDS Commission: “Issues of nursing were recorded and addressed because there are many issues that really impacting on practice and those issues have to be resolved because they are also impacting on healthcare delivery and so some of the issues have to do with recruitment and retention. The Office of the Deputy Director of Health Services who is also the Chief Nursing Officer we call her our Chief nurse that is a very critical chair and I think that the problem was we brought it to the attention that there had not been succession planning, they had failed to put the necessary structure and the public service regulations tells you that for somebody to be appointed as the Chief Nurse they have to have been like an assistant nurse or been in that position as assistant for a number of years and so that was not done and so there’s massive confusion. In any event we addressed it, the problem is that we had not heard anything from the ministry we had not gotten a response and then the time is approaching the Chief Nurse was told that she would just go off on her leave and hand over the chair to a physician who would be the Director of Health Services, I think you mentioned Dr.Manzanero – that’s a no no for nursing. Nurses are nursing, our leaders are nursing if you’re handing over you’re handing over to another nurse.”
As we have reported, Ann Matute who currently serves as the Chief Nurse, will go on pre-retirement on Friday, January 10. No replacement has been named for the post which has created an upset among nurses. In a release issued following this morning’s meeting, five demands were made including the urgent filling of the Post for the following offices: Deputy Director Health Services /Chief Nursing Officer, Assistant Deputy Director of Health Services/ Chief Nursing Officer, and the Post of the Registrar. The second point had to do with the positioning of a nurse on the selection panel in the recruitment of nurses to fill the above-mentioned posts. The third is to have the present Acting Deputy Director of Health Services/ Chief Nursing Officer retained for a suitable period of not less than six months after the appointment of the newly selected person to that office. The fourth is to have the ministry address the issue of nurse shortage in the country and the fifth had to do with matters pertaining to the recruitment and advancement in the nursing profession; issues that the release noted are seriously affecting nursing practice in Belize. The Nurses Task Force has given the Ministry of Health five days to respond to these demands to avoid crisis mode.