Photo Credit: Javon Liburd/BVI Platinum News
The BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) still needs qualified nurses and allied health specialists, but Minister for Health and Social Services, Hon. Ronnie Skelton announced that efforts to find qualified Virgin Islanders to fill the positions remain a challenge, since half of the students sent overseas to study do not return to assist the Territory.
During the Fifth Sitting of the Third Session of the Third House of Assembly, Hon. Skelton explained that the Human Resources Department of the BVIHSA is trying to fill some of the vacant positions like nurses and allied specialists, and in order to do so, they have had to recruit overseas. He said that most of the needed staff have been sourced from outside of the local population.
“We have to employ them, we have to bring them in…until we start training more nurses. I understand we have quite a few overseas now being trained,” Hon. Skelton explained.
The Health Minister said that persons are going away to study, but the BVI is not reaping the benefit.
“If you send out ten, probably five might come back, but that’s the reality of what we are dealing with. So if you have these positions in the hospital requiring nursing, medical practitioners, allied health practitioners, you want to have the service here on island, you’re gonna have to employ these people from outside to fill these positions.”
Nonetheless, Hon. Skelton noted that the health service is not as transient as would be expected from the overseas recruitment strategy, as many who are employed from elsewhere stay on.
“Quite a number of people, once they get here and they understand the tranquility and the life we live here, a lot of people stay. We have nurses that stayed with us for 25/ 30 years because they like it here. Some people use it as a stepping stone to go for higher opportunities and that’s the reality.”
The need to hire more nurses was previously mentioned by former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BVIHSA, Paula Chester-Cumberbatch during her appearance before the Standing Finance Committee this year. Chester-Cumberbatch said that the drive was ongoing and that the BVIHSA had recruited a few nurses since Irma and they were trying to find accommodations for them.
She said that the Health Services Authority had an additional pending list of nurses and they were reaching out to the islands with full nursing programmes.
The former CEO also added that through Caribbean Jobs, they ensured that their vacancy notices for nurses go far and wide.