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Many issues need attention at St Ann's Hospital

Safety issues were highlighted in the newspapers recently, but there are many other issues that need dire attention at the St Ann's Hospital.

Water woes: there has been no water on some wards for about a year. A pipeline was laid down, yet no water still. Staff work under these conditions daily, and what about the patients' health and welfare?

Salary increases: not enough training programmes are offered to St Ann's nursing staff. An increase in wages would be welcomed, or tax-free allowances. Nurses are underpaid when compared to foreign nurses and international professional nurses.

How about upgrading St Ann's Hospital? Are they not people, too? Especially when the authorities want to overcrowd the hospital with socially displaced people and welfare cases.

Electrical problems have occurred at the hospital, even leading to fires. Staff also have to perform their duties in the dark without any security or proper working torchlights.

Staffing: the hospital is already overcrowded with patients and when there is sufficient staff in an area, staff are mostly moved to another area where there is less or no staff available. May I suggest a pool of staff available for evening and night shifts, or pay staff for overtime and don't just give us an extra day off. Nursing staff should be allowed to work flexible time to alleviate latecoming or staff shortages; and make more pool staff available, like our general colleagues, especially on evening shifts and public holidays. For the State of Emergency, most night workers worked more than 40 hours per week and most were either not compensated, while some were given an extra day off. How fair was that?

No compensation for staff injured by patients in the event that they are severely hurt and cannot work. No medical doctor is available on the compound to see staff, as the staff doctor works only until 11 a.m. Offer staff health benefits as we work in a high-risk area. The pharmacy should also be opened on a weekend. If a patient urgently needs medication, he or she has to wait until Monday.

Transportation to work is always a problem for workers at night and in the morning. It was said that the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) shuttle that is provided at night to safely transport night workers and those who have finished their evening shift to City Gate was to cease for the new year because it is too costly. I guess cost is worth more than safety and life. At night and in the morning, there are mostly "PH" vehicles available.

No one seems to notice or care that the St Ann's taxi stand turns into the Savannah taxi stand from 7 a.m., whether or not police officers are present. Only a few regular "H" taxis and "PH" vehicles operate on a morning to transport workers to St Ann's, as the Savannah route makes faster money. Only when things are slow do the Savannah taxis work St Ann's. I suggest the same shuttle that transports staff at night can also do so on mornings, at a specified time, as the regular bus available at PTSC is not always available on a morning to St Ann's, or does not operate in a timely manner.

Other suggestions I'd like to offer include giving younger staff a chance at leadership instead of recycling retirees; establishing mental health centres in all or most communities and psychiatric units at general hospitals; and providing nursing personnel and other staff at the institution with appropriate and sufficient tools and supplies to perform their duties at optimum level, instead of focusing only on cutting costs.

A medical ward can also be established at the St Ann's Hospital for minor conditions, as there are many double-trained nurses at the institution. This could also help alleviate the overcrowding situation at the general hospitals.

When the Government and people truly begin to look at these issues seriously, then we may be able to curb the mass migration of nursing personnel. As it stands, nurses have no voice, unlike our other colleagues in the public service, who are united and have proper representation to champion their cause.

R Wright

San Juan

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