May 13, 2021 News
– Ministry says move intended to address structural discrimination
By Vanessa Braithwaite
First year students of the Charles Rosa School of Nursing in the mining town of Linden are calling on the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, and other relevant authorities to provide the necessary answers relative to the indefinite suspension of the Registered Nurse and Nursing Assistant programmes. According to the students, they were informed last week by their Principal Tutor that a directive was issued to send them (the students) home since both programmes will be suspended until further notice.
The students said while they were not given any reason for the suspension, they were told by the Principal Tutor that permission was not granted to facilitate classes remotely via digital platforms. The approximately 60 students affected said that the announcement has broken them and shattered their dreams, especially since no one has given them answers. “When we asked the Principal Tutor, he said he was just as clueless and shocked as us…as I am sitting here, I’m filled with frustration, anger, sadness, disappointment, basically lots of emotions at this point,” Deshawnna Youlanda Dest, a student, said. The aspiring Registered Nurse explained that many of her colleagues have been on the waiting list since 2018 and when they were accepted for their respective programmes this year, a lot of money was invested. They are now worried that all of that money will go to waste. “When we were finally called, we were so happy because we were one step closer to fulfilling our dreams. Now we are left here with no rational explanation as to why. Dreams shattered, hopeless, sad but still praying. We need answers; we want to voice our concerns. I am calling on the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, and all relevant authorities of the Ministry of Health to give us answers. Why don’t we have answers? We need answers. I’m writing this with tears in my eyes because I invested a lot, we invested a lot, our parents, husbands, wives, etc., invested a lot of money and time for it to look like it’s all going to go down the drain,” Dest shared.
Another student, who requested anonymity, said she is very disappointed after years of waiting to be accepted in her dream career. She said that she was unemployed for many years but her hopes of getting a career brightened when she was called to commence her programme. That hope, however, was short lived following the announcement of the indefinite suspension. “We were waiting so long to start, then we had to spend money to get our uniform, books and all these things, I am just trying to remain optimistic that it is not all going to waste,” the young mother of two said.
The move to suspend the programme has angered Region 10 officials, some of whom took to social media to express disappointment over the move which they said was done without explanation.
In a statement yesterday, Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon, called out the government on the state of affairs, even stating that the Opposition is horrified and alarmed since no proper explanation has been proffered. “At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc in Guyana with skyrocketing cases and a disturbing surge in deaths, frontline workers, especially nurses, are desperately needed. The trainee nurses along with their families would have made considerable sacrifices and incurred significant expenses. Many have resigned from other jobs and have expended considerable sums of money to invest in uniforms, text books, course materials, transportation and meet the increasingly burdensome living expenses,” the Opposition Leader said in a statement.
The statement further called on the government and the Ministry of Health to exercise sensible judgment and be inclusive in the training of healthcare professionals and for the immediate restoration of the programmes.
The Charles Rosa School of Nursing has been in existence for 64 years and is mandated to train health personnel from Regions One, Seven, Eight, Nine and 10.
Last Sunday, during a visit to Linden, Minister Anthony said he was not informed of the decision to suspend the programmes and therefore could not comment on the matter at that time.
However, the Ministry in a statement issued last night confirmed the suspension of the programmes which it described as Batch #66 and Class #17. In so doing it underscored that the school, funded by the taxpayers of Guyana, is intended to train all eligible Guyanese who are desirous of pursuing a career in nursing. But unfortunately, it added, “over the years, the school has trained persons mostly from Region 10, while persons from other Regions such as One, Seven, Eight and Nine were given nominal placements.”
In 2018, the statement continued, there were intakes of two batches of Professional Nursing students, Batch #64 and Batch #65. With Batch #64, the Ministry highlighted, there was an intake of 36 students for the Professional Nursing Programme, with 29 students from Region 10 alone. All students from this Batch, the Ministry noted, will be graduating this year. As it related to Batch #65, the Ministry added that there were 27 Nursing Professional students with 22 students from Region 10. This Batch, it was noted, will be graduating next year. Between these two batches, according to the Ministry, an additional 51 nurses will be added to the staff of Region 10.
The Ministry went on to note that a recent review of nursing personnel for all Regions shows that Region 10 is the only Region with an excess of 233 Registered Nurses and 106 Registered Nursing Assistants. “All other regions have deficits for trained nursing staff. Many of the regions with deficit staff have identified eligible students for training at the Charles Rosa School of Nursing. However, these students were excluded once again. Of an intake for Batch #66, of 34 students, 24 are from Region 10. And for Registered Nursing Assistants (RNA) Class #17, which has an intake of 33 students with 21 from Region 10,” the Ministry outlined. For this reason, “These two programmes, Batch #66 and Class #17, have been temporary suspended to ensure that the intake of students reflect the Regions where the Ministry of Health (MoH) have the greatest need for nurses.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry said that it is urging the APNU+AFC to stop peddling misinformation and seeking to politicise the situation. According to the Ministry, “if the APNU+AFC had addressed the structural discrimination at the Charles Rosa School of Nursing during its tenure, then students from Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine would have had equitable access.”
The Ministry assured in its statement that it would take the necessary corrective actions to ensure that all of the eligible students from the Regions will be granted access to the training programmes at the Linden nursing school. “We will review Batch #66 and Class #17 to balance the intake before classes can restart. We are confident that all right thinking and fair minded Guyanese will agree with this approach,” the Ministry added.
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