KINGSTON, Jamaica. August 25, 2021. Opposition Shadow Ministers of Health and Wellness, Dr Morais Guy, MP, and the spokesman on Labour and the Public Service, Senator Lambert Brown, are calling on the Prime Minister to immediately withdraw his offensive statement on preferential treatment of nurses, as a basis for ending the sick-out by nurses and a return to normality in the health sector.
In a joint statement today, the two Opposition Spokesmen expressed solidarity with the health workers, who in spite of their dedication and selfless work, have been experiencing major frustration with regards to their benefits. Additionally, nurses are restive due to a recent inconclusive meeting with the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, MP.
They said the Prime Minister’s withdrawal of his offensive statement and a resumption of the meetings at the level of the Ministry of Health are basic to getting a return to normalcy.
Nurses are advocating that structured measures should be introduced to guarantee care if healthcare workers contract the virus, but the government has not changed its stance of having a predetermined priority list.
The Spokesmen said special consideration for groups of workers in the public sector was quite usual, and nurses were due special treatment because of their role in the pandemic and the extraordinary responsibilities they carry in the overburdened hospital system.
In addition, they said, their condition of service has drastically fallen during the fight against Covid-19 with shortages of vital supplies including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), extra long hours and staff shortages.
Dr Guy and Senator Brown said they understood the nurses’ plight and as a result, the Prime Minister should not pour salt in the open wound and disrespect their service in any way. “He should withdraw, instruct a meeting to discuss their condition of service and provide urgent relief to their plight”, Dr Guy said.
In June the JLP govt promised to give our Frontline Health Care Workers medals. Now the nurses etc are asking not for medals but fair n proper treatment when sick. Medals can't save lives. Priority medical treatment will. Callous, uncaring and insensitive govt.— Lambert Brown (@LambertBrownJa) August 25, 2021
Senator Brown said all categories of workers in the health care system have been highly frustrated, not only with poor conditions of service, but with the lack of effort by the government and the Ministry of Health and Wellness to provide equipment that is essential to the fight against the coronavirus and which is available to other healthcare professionals globally.
They expressed deep concern for the availability of full service in the healthcare system island-wide, and said the situation must be resolved as soon as possible. They said most hospitals are already over capacity with a record 600 patients on Covid wards all over Jamaica. “The Prime Minister must therefore act responsibly to bring back normality to the public healthcare system”, Dr Guy and Senator Brown concluded.