Nurse to patient ratio below third world standards – PS Health Ministry
- Situation warrants increase in training
“The ratio of nurse to patients in the local public health system is low, even by third world standards,” said Permanent Secretary within the Health Ministry, Mr Hydar Ally.
For this reason, he said that the Ministry saw it fit to train close to 1,000 nurses this year. This figure marked the largest single training in the history of nursing locally.
“It is not because we want to mass produce and pass nurses through a conveyor belt to make the numbers look good. But we recognise as a Ministry that there is a shortage of nurses in the profession; the ratio of nurses to patients is low, even by third world standards , therefore we felt that we have to deal with it.”
The Permanent Secretary’s remarks were forthcoming at the recent graduation ceremony of the Georgetown School of Nurses which saw close to 200 nurses graduating.
Ally said a critical mass approach was embraced, thereby moving away from the usual 50 and 60 graduates that are produced on an annual basis.
“We realised we have to deal with it in the hundreds and this is the reason why a decision was taken by the administration that we have to increase the numbers and try to see what we can do even in the face of the challenges to have the programme continue.”
According to Ally it is recognised that much more must be done, adding that to an extent the Ministry is already doing much within the limitations of available resources. He added that as part of this effort the Ministry has started to look at the whole question of the expansion of the Georgetown School of Nursing.
Ally said that at the moment works are ongoing, stating that during a recent visit at the school “I was told by the contractor that before the year is out works will be completed and there will be additional and better classroom space in terms of ventilation, bathroom and clinical facilities..We hope that other issues will be addressed soon enough too.”
Further, he revealed that efforts are being made to look at the question of tutors even as he acknowledged that concerns have been heard about the difficulties being experienced by the school with respect to part-time tutors.
As such, he said that the Ministry is currently seeking to retain more full-time tutors. According to him, the Ministry is in discussion with the University of Guyana to make some amendments to its curriculum, a move which could enable the Ministry to retain more people from the university with multi-dimensional abilities and skills. And the Nursing School is expected to benefit from this arrangement in the next academic year.
The Ministry, he disclosed, too, is also working in collaboration with some international entities, particularly the Pan American Health Organisation, to bring the curriculum of the nursing school to a level that is in accordance with international standards and practices.
“It is important that we constantly look for ways to make the curriculum more relevant to the changing needs and environment. We all know that we live in a world that is changing rapidly and we cannot continue to exist on materials of the past; we have to constantly change.”