Linden nurses protest for risk allowance; $150M available after budget passes

Nurses during the protest exercise in Linden

Some $150 million has been included in Budget 2020 for frontline health workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was revealed by Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony on Wednesday following protests for risk allowances by some nurses in front of the Mackenzie Hospital in Linden.

“We recognise that … extra efforts that health workers are putting in and, in this budget, we have allocated $150 million for risk allowance. Unfortunately, the budget is not passed as yet. It is scheduled to be passed on Friday. As soon as we get that money, we will be able to give nurses and other [categories] of frontline workers that risk allowance that we promised,” he told DPI in an invited comment.

“One of the first things we did as a Government was to ensure that our nurses … as with other frontline health workers… to get PPEs [personal protective equipment] so that in this pandemic they can remain protected,” Dr. Anthony reminded.

The Minister explained that there was no need to protest for provisions that were already in the pipeline. Instead he appealed to the nurses to use the opportunity to engage their respective Regional Health Authorities, after which they could consult the Ministry of Health.

“We are here. We want to resolve issues and I don’t think these issues ought to be resolved on the streets. It can easily be resolved by sitting down and letting us understand what challenges they have, if any. I hope that in future, if nurses have any grievances, they would employ the ‘open-door policy’ that we have at the Ministry of Health,” the Minister said.

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony

Over 30 nurses attached to the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) in Region 10 (Upper Demerara- Berbice) staged a protest on Wednesday over the late payment of salaries and the absence of risk allowance.