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Story Highlights

  • Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says he continues to work with the Ministry of Finance to ensure that all matters related to a new wage package for the island’s nurses are agreed on in the shortest possible time.
  • Addressing the 45th island conference of the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica (NAJ) on October 9, at Jewels Resort in St. Ann, the Minister said the discussions also include submissions made on behalf of Public Health Nurses.
  • The Minister said from those discussions, several positive recommendations have been made on important points in the wage negotiations, and that he remains “behind the scene” working to get the best deal for the nurses.

Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, says he continues to work with the Ministry of Finance to ensure that all matters related to a new wage package for the island’s nurses are agreed on in the shortest possible time.

Addressing the 45th island conference of the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica (NAJ) on October 9, at Jewels Resort in St. Ann, the Minister said the discussions also include submissions made on behalf of Public Health Nurses.

“I have also been behind the scene in discussion with my counterpart colleague, Minister Horace Dalley and the negotiating team, trying to work out the sticky points to enable you as members of the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica to reach an amicable settlement in relation to the Heads of Agreement for 2015/17,” he told the members.

The Minister said from those discussions, several positive recommendations have been made on important points in the wage negotiations, and that he remains “behind the scene” working to get the best deal for the nurses.

He said that as it relates to payment for the third tranche of the reclassification exercise, instructions have been given for a November 2015 and January 2016 payment to be made to the nurses.

On the training of nurses, Dr. Ferguson said he will be having discussions with the University of Technology (UTech) and the University of the West Indies (UWI) to identify training opportunities for members of the profession.

He pointed out that the issue which resulted in a break in the training of Critical Care Nurses has been resolved, and working with the National Health Fund (NHF), a plan is being developed for a collaborative programme with the Ministry of Education.

“There is an outstanding meeting that we must have with the academic community, including UTech and UWI in relation to the training modalities. We have also said that the parallel programme must continue until we are satisfied about the training arrangement,” the Minister said.

Dr. Ferguson also highlighted a programme which the Ministry has put forward,  with support from the NHF, to spend some $400 million on training for members of the health sector.

The Minister said with the advent of additional diseases surfacing across the world and in Jamaica annually, Public Health Nurses, Public Health  Inspectors, Midwives, Community Health Aides and others in the field will be given priority training in that new programme.

“We must ensure that the burden of training cannot be on you in terms of finding the financial requirements. And that is why, as part of the retention strategy, Governments, present or future, have to have a clear focus in relation to how we are going to retain our best nurses and our best doctors in the public sector,” Dr. Ferguson said.

The conference, which ends on October 11, is being held under the theme: ‘Nurses: A Force for Change, Care Effective, Cost Effective’.