Ninety-five Ghanaian nurses (49 women and 46 men) on Thursday, 30 July 2020 arrived in Barbados on an Azores Airlines chartered flight for a two-year contract.
They are to help the Caribbean country’s healthcare system.
The Ghanaian nurses were met by Barbadian government officials including the Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, newly-installed Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins and Executive Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland.
“These nurses will be working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital as well as the primary healthcare sector, that is the Geriatric Hospitals and polyclinics,” the Barbadian health minister said, adding, however: “But that is not the only thing that we have to deal with as a Ministry of Health”.
Lieutenant Colonel Bostic said: “We have the remainder of the healthcare sector to take care of even though we are fighting this battle [COVID-19] and your presence here today, and certainly when you start to work in a couple of weeks’ time, would enhance our capacity to deliver the quality of healthcare services that we have been doing for years, and that we will continue to do, and even though we have to divert some of our efforts to fighting COVID-19, we are now in a better position to deal with the remainder of the healthcare system in Barbados”.
Speaking on behalf of her colleague Ghanaian nurses, Lorraine Atopley said: “Thank you very much for welcoming us and greetings from President Nana Akufo-Addo and all the human resources personnel from the Ministry of Health [in Ghana].”
The team, she said, hope to have good interactions with the patients for the next two or more years.
“We promise to work hard to deliver good service to everyone and be at peace with everyone.”
In November 2019, the Foreign Ministers of Ghana and Barbados, on behalf of the governments and peoples of their respective countries, signed an agreement for the recruitment of a total of 120 nurses from Ghana to complement the staffing needs of the island nation.
The agreement was signed on Friday, 15 November 2019 at Ghana’s Jubilee House, when the Prime Minister of Barbados, Her Excellency Mia Mottley, paid a courtesy call on the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as part of her official visit.
The objective of the agreement is to provide the framework for the provision of the nurses by the Republic of Ghana to Barbados, taking cognisance of the existing commitment of Barbados to accepted international workforce policies and practices as well as the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Code of Ethics for nurses.
The scope of services and responsibilities include Ghana providing registered nurses to Barbados with a level of expertise as agreed to by both countries, with Barbados providing Ghanaian nurses safe and secure working conditions for professional practice, medical treatment where needed.
Remuneration is commensurate with the terms and conditions of Barbadian local registered Nurses. Barbados is also to provide professional support to Ghanaian nurses to comply with the guidelines and rules of the Nursing Council of Barbados.
A total of 150 short-listed candidates underwent interviews from which 120 were to have been chosen.
The qualified nurses possess a minimum of three years’ experience, with specialities in the following areas: critical care, cardiac catheterisation, emergency room, operating theatre, ophthalmology.
It will be recalled that on 15 June 2019, during an official visit to Barbados, as part of activities to promote the declaration of 2019 as the Year of Return, President Akufo-Addo, in principle, agreed to a request by Prime Minister Mottley to send some nurses to work in a number of medical facilities in Barbados.
Addressing a press conference in the aftermath of the bilateral discussions, and with Barbados facing an acute nursing shortage, the Barbadian Prime Minister stated that “we have indicated that we are searching for just under 400 nurses, so it is not a small number, and we really do believe that this is a wonderful opportunity of co-operation between our two countries.”
In addition, she noted that there was also an initial promise to secure the nurses, and provide joint education programmes going forward, all in an attempt to secure Barbados’ healthcare sector.
For his part, President Akufo-Addo indicated that “we have a surplus of nurses in Ghana, and placing them all in our public health system is one of my headaches. There have been a lot (of nurses) produced, which, for several years, we have not been able to do anything with.”
He continued, “So, I am going back. I will be back in Accra on Monday, and, the week after, the Prime Minister will hear from me on this matter of nurses.”