JIS News

The Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ) has agreed to resume discussions at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service next week, on public registered nurses claim for pay increases dating back to 2008.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Pearnel Charles, endorsed the decision at a meeting with the NAJ at his Ministry Friday (April 9). He emphasised, however, that the discussions must be conducted within a framework of normalcy within the health sector, and the parties must return to his Ministry at a later date, if they fail.
Mr. Charles told JIS News that, in light of the return to normality, there was no need for his Ministry to seek a Court injunction barring the nurses from further industrial action.
“We feel it is better to have an agreement between the parties, than having the Court dictate to them. I think we should only seek an injunction when the nation’s interest is threatened,” he said.
Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, also attended the meeting, as did officials from his Ministry, the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
Earlier this week scores of registered nurses reported ill, interrupting health services at several major hospitals.
The registered nurses are seeking payment, retroactively, of increases originally offered to them by the Government in 2008, to cover the period 2008/09 to 2009/10. They had opted, instead, for implementation of the results of a reclassification exercise, which would bring their salaries closer in line with private sector colleagues.
In the meantime, the Minister of Health has activated its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), to provide strategic management, direction and coordinated intervention in the service, in light of the uncertainty in the attendance of the registered nurses since April 1.
The Ministry says the EOC will ensure the ongoing monitoring of attendance of nurses and the impact on service delivery, provide central direction and guidance to the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) and service delivery points and determine the nature of the intervention that may be required.
The EOC will also maintain close contact with all service delivery points, including RHAs, parish health departments, hospitals and health centres, oversee the re-deployment of staff, based on the emerging situation and, periodically, advise the public of measures being taken and of any changes to service delivery.
The Ministry has instructed the RHAs to recall all nurses on vacation and departmental leave. Regional Technical Directors have also been instructed to provide specific information on the level of disruption and impact on the delivery of care. The Ministry has made a public appeal for retired nurses to call 1888-663-5683 (1888-ONE-LOVE) between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. daily. A formal request has also been sent to the Red Cross and St. John’s Ambulance Brigade for skilled personnel to indicate their availability to augment staff at the institutions.

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