File photo of student nurses in Dominica

President of the Dominica Nursing Association (DNA), Rosie Felix, has said that salary is a major issue for nurses who are leaving Dominica in droves.

She noted that it is the reason why nurses are leaving the island to seek employment elsewhere.

“Salary takes up 50 percent of the problem and the other 50 percent, a combination of problems,” she stated. “It is a fact that nurses are leaving for better salary abroad.”

According to Felix, a nurse migrating to a neighboring island gets a start-off salary of $5,000.

“Our top nurse, her start-off salary is below $5,000,” she stated.

She said some time ago a job consultancy exercise here in Dominica recommended a significant increase for nurses but that document has been pushed aside.

“A few years ago, the Caribbean Center for Developmental Administration did a job consultancy exercise here and DNA, we were pushing for that along with the unions and other stakeholders,” she said. “The consultants recommended or justified, basically, that nurses do need a salary upgrade and they recommended a significant salary upgrade. This document and this recommendation have been put aside, cast aside, so nurses continue to work for less than we really need at this time.

She remarked that what nurses want is “professional pay for professional work.”

“Nurses will tell you when they go to the bank, the bankers are telling them to get a husband so they could get a loan together because their salary is not enough for them to secure a house loan or land loan,” Felix said.

Figures from the Ministry of Health show some 14 nurses including retirees departed the island since Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica last September.

In 2017, a total of 14 nurses including retirees also left the island.

This is a total of 28 nurses and officials fear this could have an impact on health services in Dominica.

Health Minister, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, said on a recent radio program that the nursing service in Dominica is ‘fast nearing critical levels’ but some people are making it appear worse than it really is.