The Lower House of Parliament has given government authorisation to bring into the public service a number of nurses who have completed their formal training while awaiting regional certification.
Health Minister Nickolas Steele who tabled the Nurses and Midwives Registration (Amendment) Bill 2015 said government is seeking to maintain the highest standard of nursing in the country.
The Health Minister told Parliament that the amendment of the Bill seeks to allow the trained individuals, mainly those who have studied in Cuba, to be able to operate as nurses.
According to Minister Steele between 2013 and 2015, 20 Grenadians were trained as nurses in Cuba, and out of that number five are currently unemployed.
He said the other 15 are practising their profession in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago without regional certification.
The Health Minister recalled that those nurses went off to Cuba, studied, passed the exams there, and returned ready, willing and able to work in the local system.
He added that the quality of health care provided and taught in the Spanish-speaking country cannot be questioned.
Minister Steele said the previous Nurses and Midwives Registration Bill frames the way by which the Nursing Council can operate.
He stressed that the previous Bill is prohibitive in having government move forward with the improvement of health care, and that the Nursing Council has the right to decide whether it accepts or rejects a certificate of qualification from an individual who is trained outside of Grenada or outside of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Previously nurses had to first take a regional qualifying exam through the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) upon completion of their formal training before being certified to practice their profession.
Through the amendment, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is charged with the responsibility to issue a temporary license to the nurses based on the conditions of health care and the need of health care in general for a period not exceeding 12 months.
Minister Steele indicated that the amendment also allows the Nursing Council to permit the nurses at an appropriate time within the period of them having the temporary license, to take the CXC Nursing Exam, and once being successful, they can be officially and permanently registered as nurses in Grenada.
“What I seek to do… is level the playing field to allow us to give our Grenadian-trained nurses the opportunity to stay in Grenada and practise what they learnt in Cuba,” he said.
Former Health Minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen who supported the amendment to the Bill said it seeks “to remedy or provide a temporary solution for an agony that has been going on far too long among our nurses.”
“This is an honourable move to right a wrong,” added the female government minister.
The ruling New National Party (NNP) administration has been under public fire to improve the island’s healthcare system.