Trinidad: Nurses on work-to-rule

Public Services Association president Jennifer Baptiste-Primus

Nurses have been told to work to rule at medical institutions from today.

It came yesterday as the Public Services Association criticised what it called the "reckless behaviour" of Health Minister John Rahael following the dismissal of two of the nurses involved in an incident during where baby Justin Paul was burnt at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex.

She said incidents like this occurred because the NCRHA is suffering a shortage of nursing staff, and nurses are being asked to perform duties not required in their job specifications.

"We strongly advise nurses not to carry out functions for which they are not trained," she said. "Neither of the nurses who were held responsible have training in neonatology but yet still they were expected to function on this ward."

At a media conference yesterday in Port of Spain PSA President Jennifer Baptiste-Primus called the disciplinary tribunal a "kangaroo court", and said that no proper investigation took place.

"The nurses were never given a chance to defend themselves and found out through the media that they had been fired," she said. "The public was rightly outraged by what occurred with baby Justin, but the action taken by Rahael was obviously to appease the masses."

She said the nurses only received a letter summoning them to a disciplinary tribunal on the evening of May 24, after Rahael announced their dismissal at a post-Cabinet press briefing.

Baptiste-Primus said at the tribunal held the next day the nurses were not given the opportunity to tell their side of the story and were simply told that they had been dismissed. They had no opportunity to find legal representation and were never told exactly what charges had been laid against them.

The PSA also objected to the presence of the Nursing Administrator of the Mt Hope hospital and said that person who gave the instruction to the nurse should not be a part of the disciplinary tribunal.

"There was no deliberation." she said. "The PSA agrees with Dr Petronella Manning that these nurses are scapegoats. The doctor and the head nurse who gave the order are both still employed, but the nurses who were simply following instructions were fired."

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May 30 2007 19:17


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