There seems to be a stalemate between the Government and the Nurses Association of Jamaica that has resulted in the disruption of services in the public health care facilities with scores of nurses reported as being sick thus affecting the delivery of care.
The nurses are suffering from the acute conditions of stagnation in the discussions regarding the salary /wage negotiations for 2017-2019 which have been stalled indefinitely. The Opposition is urging the Government to move with speed to address the situation and allow normalcy to return to the health sector.
The Government offered an increase of a meagre 3% to the nurses which equates to less than $2000 per month or less than $100 more per day. The Opposition views this as an insult to the hard working nurses, who sacrifice daily to preserve the well being of our nation. It is clear that the nurses and other members of the health care team are overworked and grossly under paid, leaving very limited room for motivation. The Opposition stands in solidarity with the nurses and demands that the Government shows them the respect they deserve by resuming the talks with them in an effort to make a meaningful offer.
The WHO recommends that 6% of GDP be spent on health care and currently only 3% of the GOJ’s budget is allocated to health care. That is unacceptable and is the cause of the downward spiral regarding the standard of care being delivered.
The nurses are restive and the few that I spoke to personally are questioning whether or not they can trust the words of the Government and the Cabinet, the Prime Minister must intervene and restore the credibility of his administration.