A group of Nurses in Grenada have given newly appointed Health Minister, Nickolas Steele a one-month ultimatum to address their grievous concerns or expect work stoppage.
A well-placed source told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the nurses along with their representative body, the Public Workers Union (PWU) met with Minister Steele on Christmas Eve when the threat of possible strike action was put to him.
According to the source, the Registered Nurses are totally fed-up with the failure of the near two-year old Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration to address a number of burning issues affecting them.
He said the nurses are demanding job security instead of being made to work on repeated six months contract at the St. George’s General Hospital.
He spoke of the contract of some of the nurses being rolled over every six months while others are asked to stay on the job without any form of security.
The source also pointed out that the nurses are complaining that they have to work longer hours than usual due to a shortage of nurses at the St. George’s General Hospital.
A few months ago, the Mitchell government was boasting of sending nurses to work in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago.
The source also referred to problems the nurses were encountering at the Gynecology Ward at the hospital which is considered to be in a dilapidated state.
“It is true that government did some work there recently but the Nurses feel that much more needs to be done in order to make the place really safe for them to work”, he remarked.
The official stated that the Mitchell-led administration has not done anything significantly much better to the hospital than the former 2008-13 Congress government of Tillman Thomas.
He spoke of the Junior Doctors at the hospital being totally unhappy with their working conditions and are virtually engaged in a form of go-slow action.
He said the doctors are unhappy with the fact that they are made to work 8-hour shifts and that can be extended by another 8-hours to make it 16 hours on the job as they are placed “On-Call” with little or no remuneration.
He indicated that the doctors are paid only $8 per hour while “On-Call” and want government to introduce the system that is in place in other member countries of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to compensate doctors for their services.
Another complaint of the doctors, according to the official is the poor food given to them to eat while on duty.
He said the doctors are served the same meals as those prepared by the hospital for sick patients.
“The doctors don’t like that one at all. They are not sick, they are healthy men and women but you giving them the same food that is prepared for patients who suffer from Diabetes and other illnesses”, he remarked.
THE NEW TODAY also understands that the doctors are taking affront to the fact that while “On-Call” they are transported to the hospital in the same ambulance that is used to bring patients to the hospital.
“I kind of understand what the doctors are saying. For example, if the ambulance is sent to transport a patient suffering with Ebola, you should not send that same ambulance to pick up the doctor who is “On-Call” to bring him out to work at the hospital”, he said.
“A lot of the time you hearing the ambulance coming through town with Siren blasting, is not a patient they are carrying to the hospital but the doctor that had to be picked up because he was “On-Call” and is needed to do something at the hospital”, he added.
The Junior Doctors want the Mitchell government to provide alternative transportation to take them to the hospital when they are placed “On-Call” and have to leave their home to go to the hospital to take up duties.
This newspaper understands that the hospital has been forced to turn to the Cuban doctors on the island to provide “On-Call Services especially at the Princess Alice hospital in St. Andrew’s as the local Junior Doctors are refusing to travel to Mirabeau as part of their protest action.