Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 06, 2016 (SKNIS): Retired Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Patrick Martin has given thumbs up to the Team Unity Administration’s recruitment of non-national nurses to fill critical shortages in the health sector amid the noise of a small band of opposition voices.
In an interview with local radio station WINN FM, Dr. Martin said that he is in full support of the government’s hiring of specialist nurses from outside the Federation, referring recently to the recruitment of 12 nurses from the Philippines, whom he said are “well trained” to fill specific gaps in health care.
“We have certain gaps in the nursing field, especially in the specialty areas and where there is a gap the gap has to be filled right away, because the people need the service. The Philippines train nurses for export; they are high quality nurses and I’ve worked with them here and overseas and so the recruitment from the Philippines is fine,” Dr. Martin is quoted as saying in a WINN FM article titled “Martin Supports Recruitment of Foreign Nurses” written by one Ken Richards dated December 05, 2016.
Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, underscored the need for locals to be trained in specialist areas when he recently spoke at the Handing over Ceremony of the New Mental Health Day Treatment Facility at Lime Kiln Commercial Development on December 5, 2016. He also said that in having specialists, especially in health care, poor people will not have to spend exorbitant fees to travel overseas for medical attention.
On November 29, 2016, in a radio and television address to the nation in response to media chatter about the hiring of the Filipino nurses, Minister of State with Responsibility for Health, Senator the Honourable Wendy C. Phipps, said that the decision to hire non-national professionals was nothing new.
“The decision to recruit nurses from the Philippines is not a new practice by the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis. To be precise, Government has been in the habit of recruiting nurses for years. In the past five years alone, starting in 2011 during the former Labour Administration, a total of 27 foreign nurses have been hired,” said Senator Phipps, while stating that some of those nurses have been recruited from as close by as Cuba to as far away as the Republic of China (Taiwan).
“All foreign nurses who have been recruited to work in our Federation provide specialist skill sets currently lacking among our local nursing fraternity, especially Oncology, Haemodialysis, Intensive Care and Mental Health,” she added.
Minister Phipps underscored the need for the health sector in St. Kitts and Nevis to build capacity.
“The recruitment of foreign nurses with specialised skill sets is meant to build capacity among our local nurses and in time, have knowledge transfer so that the foreign nurses can be repatriated. This system works. For example, it was nurse Marie Manibog from the Philippines – who is no longer here with us – assisted greatly in 2012 in the establishment of the Haemodialysis Unit at JNF, a Department that is now ably headed by a local Assistant Nurse Manager. We anticipate similar results with the two newly recruited nurses for Oncology – the newest Department at JNF – for which another local Nurse Manager will be the Head,” said Minister Phipps.
Like the retired CMO Dr. Martin, Minister Phipps said that the Filipino nurses render excellent health care service.
“Based on Government’s experience over the years, it has been discovered that nurses from The Philippines are top quality, hard-working performers. Hence, the reason for more Filipino nurses being employed than their counterparts in other countries,” Minister Phipps said.