PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday May 1, 2015 – Nurses are protesting new measures that take effect in public hospitals in the twin-island republic from today, and are calling for Minister of Health Dr Fuad Khan to be fired.
The measures announced earlier this week include: allowing relatives to stay with children or elderly patients on a 24-hour basis, extended visitors’ hours, and allowing fathers to be present in the delivery room during their children’s birth.
The nurses protested outside the Mt Hope Medical Sciences Complex with the blessing of their representative – the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) – which has objected to the new measures.
TTRNA president Gwendolyn Loobie-Snaggs told the Trinidad Express that the measures were unrealistic and could not be implemented in the way Minister Khan wanted.
“The minister did not properly think this out,” she said.
Apart from there being no space to accommodate relatives on the wards 24 hours a day, Loobie-Snaggs told the newspaper that starting visiting hours at 7 a.m. was not feasible, as that was the time nurses changed shifts and housekeeping was done and visitors on the wards at that time would therefore obstruct staff from performing their duties.
As for the plan to allow fathers in the delivery room, the association head said there was no privacy in delivery rooms and men would therefore be able to hear and see other women giving birth.
Loobie-Snaggs issued an open letter to the Health Minister and the chairpersons and chief executive officers of all Regional Health Authorities (RHAs), in which she put the association’s disapproval of the measures on record and charged that “the Minister continues to usurp the responsibility of the Boards and Executive Management of the RHAs”.
“Moreover, there is clear evidence of little appreciation of the challenges and real dangers associated with any attempt to implement these superficial, politically motivated measures,” she wrote.
“TTRNA objects to the decision to impose these measures. Our members must not be made collateral damage that would inevitably accrue from these proposed measures. Nursing personnel would not continue to be victims of a mismanaged and poorly resourced public health care system.”