Law May Be Amended To Address Nursing Shortage


(Hurst Cabinet Notes)

The Medical Director was also questioned about the shortage of nurses and the exam to be taken in order to become a qualified Antigua and Barbuda nurse.


In 2015, there were 250 nurses; today, in 2020, there are 179 nurses attached to the MSJMC. Nurses are also required at the Infectious Disease Control Center at the old Holberton Hospital, and additional nurses at the mini-hospital on Nugent Avenue.


However, nurses trained in Antigua and Barbuda are drawn to the USA, the UK and Canada—jurisdictions that pay far more than Antigua and Barbuda can afford.


The Cabinet is giving some consideration to amending any laws that may inhibit the use of nurses from other jurisdictions to join the MSJMC.

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  1. Globally, any medical /legal professional must take an exam to be licensed to practice in a country that is different from their originally qualifying country. The aim is to ensure the person meets the criteria/understands the standards of the new country they are to practice in.

    Cabinet, please tread carefully in looking to adjust these criteria that currently prevent unsuitable people from being licensed here.

    Also, look at the excellence of some overseas nurse training systems i.e. Cuba, that are more rigorous than our own, to allow a more rapid licensing process for such qualified & vetted individuals.

    The criteria for relaxation of licensing must be very specific to ensure consistently better nursing for patients & not allow a drop in standards.

    Then identify countries that meet the desired criteria, that pay less than A&B, and actively recruit, which is what Canada, UK & USA do of Antiguan nurses.

  2. Between 2018 and 2020 we lost a number of our locally trained MSJMC nurses to overseas recruiting companies.

    Why did that occur?

    Is it perhaps that nurses are making much less than administrative assistants/staff at MSJMC?

    Is it perhaps that nurses hired at MSJMC, unlike those older nurses who were secunded from Holberton, have
    no job security; no retirement plan in place??

    Is it perhaps that the nursing management team still utilizes antiquated methods of managing nurses, referred to as “drill sergeant” management?

    Is it that the nursing management at MSJMC have failed to nurture their young nurses placing them into high stress areas with little tracking/follow up on their progress.

    MUCH needs to be looked at with regard to the pay and management of nurses, ALL nurses who work in public institutions.

    Cabinet’s move to relax the standards of certifying nursing qualifications which serves to protect our public is a VERY myopic approach.

    We have nurses here presently, brought here by the Government, some of whom are living in sub standard conditions with leaking toilets, no running water, and some not being paid for as much as 4 months in some instances. (Ok, end rant)

    Mayhap Cabinet would be best served by addressing the financial conditions that PUSHES our nurses out.

    While our Caribbean governments CANNOT pay salaries comparable to those earned in the States, Canada, and the U.K., it CAN offer a living wage which would ensure the loss of less nurses.

    Hospital institutions need to look at their management structures to ensure young nurses are not being frustrated and pushed out by “managers” who have no training in how to manage persons.

    The practice of promoting nurse managers based on their years of service with little regard to their ability to manage people MUST be reviewed.

    • I am in total agreement with your statement.
      Our health care system is extremely lacking in many areas.
      Including the area of continuous education for all nurses and other health care professionals including assistants in the field.
      Nurses will continue to leave because they are being driven away because financially being a nurse here in Antigua is not worth it.
      Nursing is a calling yes but nurses too must live comfortably and not having to wonder what date they will be paid.
      The leaders need to be changed because their one track mind can not make it in this economy to guide this generation of nurses.
      It is also time enough that the leaders have a growth mindset and stop this crab in the barrel mentality when other persons who are well trained and have attended private institutions apply to the government and are given the run around just because the other institutions appear to be competing.
      We are in some very challenging times and the recruitment for the USA, Canada and the UK has started once again because the vacancies are now more than ever.

  3. Alot of those students who get government grants to go study overseas then go foreign to work for big money, never pay back a fkn dollar to Antigua ! Surname depending.

  4. If you are a Nurse.You are working for EC $25,000 per annum. Someone came and offered you US$60,000 to start.What would you do?

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