Nurses Demonstrating outside Glendon Hospital on Thursday, April 7, 2022. (screenshot)

Ministry of Health Releases Statement on Addressing Nurses’ Concerns

The Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) on Thursday acknowledged in a press statement “the significant concerns raised by the nurses on island.”

The statement follows Thursday morning’s industrial action by nurses and other workers at the Glendon Hospital. The nurses are protesting being overworked, underpaid and unappreciated.

“We want the nurses and by extension the public to know that their concerns have never been ignored,” the statement read.

According to the Ministry, on March 31st 2022, they received a letter from the Montserrat Nurses’ Association highlighting a number of concerns and requesting a response by Wednesday April 6, 2022.

“As requested, the Ministry of Health provided a written response to the President of the Association, Ms. Danelda Henry on April 6, 2022. In our response, it was pointed out that over the years we have prioritized the need to attract and retain adequate staffing to meet the continued needs of the community. Unfortunately, attracting and retaining staff has proved challenging. We have activated all avenues to recruit nurses, including our willingness to engage any registered nurse currently on island.

“On the matter of salaries, the association was informed that the request was presented to the Cabinet and there is agreement in principle, but discussions continue with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office to further advance this. The association was further informed that a Cabinet Paper is being prepared by the Ministry of Health to address the issue of Sessional Allowances.”

“Hiring of auxiliary staff was flagged as another demand by the association,” the statement continued. The ministry informed the association that “the hiring of auxiliary staff such as Geriatric Aides has been and continues to be practiced in order to address areas of shortage. In fact, we also pointed out that as recently as last week, the ministry supported the request for two recently retired Geriatric Aides to be reengaged to provide support for the care of patients and residents.”

The statement said that the “challenges posed by COVID-19 unfortunately affected our training programmes for nurses in 2021-2022 as all available funds were redirected and no new spend requests were approved. However, for the 2022-2023 financial year a New Spend request was made for overseas training of nurses to the value of seven hundred and ninety-three thousand, nine hundred dollars ($793,900.00). These are just some of the measures and actions taken to alleviate some of the challenges of working in what we acknowledge is a ‘strained health system’.”

The ministry confirmed that as part of their ongoing communication with the nurses, the Minister of Health Charles Kirnon will be meeting with the representatives of the association on Friday April 8 in order to “work collectively to address the concerns and hopefully arrive at an amicable resolution.”

The statement also noted that “while on a personal level we would want to fix all of the issues at once, the reality is that some of the issues cannot be fixed immediately given the systematic nature of government; limited financial resources and other complexities which often delay the speed at which some actions can be implemented.

“Our nurses are an invaluable asset to the health care system on Montserrat and have performed tremendously in a stressful and challenging environment. We are thankful for your contributions and your sacrifices. We know that the Nurses ultimately want to provide the best service for the people of Montserrat and we will do our very best to empower them to be able to do so,” the statement ended.