By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Health Minister Dr. Bheri Ramsaran and the Government by extension have been heavily criticized for the management of the three nursing schools in Guyana.
According to the main Parliamentary Opposition Party – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) – the Health Minister should stop burying his head in the sand and revamp the nursing schools while at the same time re-evaluating nurse training in order to improve patient care.
Leader of the APNU David Granger told reporters on Friday, March 7 that there have been public concerns expressed over the recent and repeated reports of mismanagement in hospital wards, mistreatment of patients and mistakes leading to maternal deaths, adding that the Guyana Nurses Association (GNA) has pointed out that the problems facing the health care system are chronic, the most serious being the condition and quality of nurse training.
“The results of the most recent professional nursing examination are evidence of deep rooted difficulties and deficiencies in training,” Granger said, adding that “reports indicated that of 120 nurses from the Georgetown School of Nursing, only 19 were successful. A total of 255 student nurses entered the three year programme in April 2010 but just over 120 persevered to write the final examinations.”
According to the Opposition Leader, the main problems cited in the three nursing schools (Linden, Berbice and Georgetown) were overcrowding, understaffing, insufficient training materials, inadequate infrastructure and indiscipline.
Meanwhile, APNU Parliamentarian and Shadow Health Minister Dr. George Norton said that Dr. Ramsaran has so far demonstrated no seriousness in dealing with the issue and called on him to address the decline in quality of locally trained nurses, which he has refused to accept, across the country.
Dr. Norton said despite the apparent dysfunctional programme the Ministry continues to accept more students who it is using as a sacrifice to political expediency.
“Accepting more students will not solve the problem… the performance of nurses on the ward leaves much to be desired, in 2008 we had a pass rate of over 95% in 2013 we had a failure rate of 80.5%, there were no passes at the Berbice campus, something that has never happened and the Minister continues to bury his head in the sand” Dr. Norton said.
Also speaking on the topic was the recently appointed APNU Parliamentarian Dr. Karen Cummings who stated that for the last 36 years the nursing programme has been plagued with challenges that must be addressed now.
She too pointed out that there was the need for the programme to be revamped to engender a complete paradigm shift. Dr. Cummings said there are core problem even at the selection level for students entering the programme, adding that the school no longer conduct the interviews, there is no representative from the school on the selection board and tutors are not allowed to screen students’ qualification, to name a few.
The APNU said it will support greater funding for the programme since the consequences of not improving same is too hard to contemplate.
The party added that there have been several credible reports over the last five years which have all called attention to the issues associated with nurse training which all pointed out that the local rate of attrition from nurse labour market was 18.5% in 2007.
The APNU added that according to data provided, 75 nurses were reported to have left the nurse labour market for various reasons and opined that the attrition continues up to present.
The APNU also pointed out that Guyana spends about $600M annually on nurses’ education but is losing too many graduates through migration.