A member of the Opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has staged a lone protest outside the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) in solidarity with nurses who he said are working under inhumane conditions there.
Attorney, Ronald Charles, who contested the Roseau Valley Constituency on a UWP ticket during the 2014 General Election and lost, was seen with a loudspeaker outside the PMH this morning voicing his concerns with regard to the nurses and the way they are being treated.
Charles is of the view that nurses are working in an environment that is very frustrating.
“Today I stand up in solidarity for our nurses and I will be there for a very long time,” he said. “I will come here every single morning and I will work to bring a sense of dignity, if I can in my capacity, to the nurses and civil servants who are working so hard but the conditions are challenging.”
Charles maintained that nurses cannot continue to work in “this kind of condition” and demanded that they be treated differently.
“..It is time we respect the work that they do…the work that they do for us in important,” he remarked.
Charles specifically called on the Minister for Health and the Prime Minister to pay more attention to nurses.
“The Ministry of Health must make the conditions better for our nurses,” he noted. “Calling on the Minister of Health to please consider the nurses of this country.”
Dominica has been facing a serious shortage in the nursing service since many nurses have migrated, especially after Hurricane Maria. This has sparked concerns that the shortage could have an impact on the health sector.
Acccording to the Dominica Nurses Association (DNA), in an earlier publication on DNO, among the issues of concern to nurses are: unattractive conditions of work, which include very low salaries, workplace bullying, stretched human resource and unsafe and oppressive work environments.
In May, Health Minister, Dr. Kenneth Darroux, in apparent reference to the DNA’s advocacy on behalf of nurses, questioned the motives of those highlighting the problems of nurses, saying they are trying “to rile up nurses” in Dominica. However, two weeks later, in an address for International Nurses Day, the health minister said the government was treating the concerns of nurses on the island as a priority and was committed to supporting the nursing service.
He said the government has taken “drastic measures” to abate the concerns of nurses.
They include an “increase by 100% allowances, pay special hurricane relief uniform allowance and increase in pay rate of nursing sessions and we have also revisited other administrative measures such as implementation measures for tenure of nurses, provision of transportation and increase pool of nurses among others.”
The provision of transportation for nurses after Hurricane Maria has since been discontinued.