Minister of Health, Nickolas Steele has said that government is looking to hire all fifteen Grenadian nurses who will shortly graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing from St. George’s University (SGU).
Speaking at the weekly post-Cabinet Press Briefing, Minister Steele said that government will have to put things in place to employ the new batch of nurses in light of reports that a number of local nurses might soon be migrating to the UK to take up job offers.
“SGU is working hand in hand with our Nursing Council to make sure that all the I’s are dotted and all the T’s are crossed with respect to certification but the first batch will be graduating successfully with a Bachelors of Science degree,” he said.
The inaugural graduating class of SGU-trained nurses is expected to take place later this month.
According to Health Minister Steele, it is the hope of the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) administration that the fifteen graduating nurses will help to enhance the present health sector.
However, he dropped hints that the hiring of the nurses would be hinged on restrictions imposed as a result of the Structural Adjustment Programme that called for limits on hiring in the public service.
He said: “As always we are confined within the rules and regulations of the Public Service agreement that we have made through the debt restructuring period, so, I would like to and I am working to have each and every one of those nurses in the system. But there will be, as we have done in the past, will be methods of not the usual expected coming onto the system as an established worker but I want those individuals as quickly as possible to be serving the public and I am sure those individuals having been qualified, want to serve the public”.
“So as Health Minister, I will be working with Minister of Finance (Prime Minister Mitchell) and Department of Public Administration (DPA) to find ways for these individuals to come into the service particularly as we have heard rumours and possibly seeing nurses who are leaving to go to the UK that has been said by the unions. So we are making the arrangements on the other side to make sure that we have nurses coming into the system”, he added.
Under the SAP, government agreed to a policy with the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) to only hire back three out of every ten public officers who are leaving the service.