Minister of Public Health address on International Nurses Day 2017

(GEORGETOWN- MOPH, May 12, 2017)– Overtime payment will be reintroduced for nurses Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence announced Friday while addressing the International Nurses Day Rally in the Capital.

Lawrence assured them that she’s well-aware of the challenges they face but is committed to improving the working standards, especially when it comes to monetary compensation for hard work.

“Nurses will be compensated for their hours of work even if it entails paying overtime. You must be compensated”, Lawrence told the health sector workers gathered at the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) Hall, Regent Street and Shiv Chanderpaul Drive in observance of International Nurses Week.

Minister Lawrence didn’t provide details of the reintroduction of overtime payment controversially stopped by the previous administration. Ending overtime payment has been a bone of contention among government workers and the nurses greeted Lawrence’s announcement with applause.

Restarting overtime payment and ending verbal and physical abuse of health care workers dominated themes explored in the minister’s discourse with the nurses Friday.

“We are going to deem every hospital and health centre, a sacred ground” Lawrence told them.

The Minister was reiterating her outrage at the recent abuse of doctors and nurses at the West Demerara Regional Hospital (WDRH) in Region Three (Essequibo Islands/West Demerara) which she condemned as “unacceptable”.

Since the last attack the MOPH and the Ministry of Public Security have agreed to beef up security at the health institution.

Friday’s rally was held to honor nurses from all 10 administrative regions of Guyana for their valuable contributions to Guyana’s public health sector. Nurses were awarded for excellence and punctuality, excellence in patient care, years of services, willingness and dedication of services and for maintaining high standards of quality care in nursing.

International Nurses Week 2017 was observed under the theme: “Nurses: A voice to Lead- Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) .

Lawrence praised the local nurses helping Guyana fulfil its part of the global SDG pact.

“I see your role intrinsically and primarily linked to the Ministry of Public Health’s mandate which envisions the adequate provision and delivery of primary health care and the enhancement of the well- bring of all our citizens- Goal # 3 of the SDGS which advocates the strengthening and improvement in the quality of health care services to all communities in all ten administrative regions of our country”, she told the nurses.

Guyana has been working on to accelerate its public health drive to meet the demands of the post-2015 agenda and the 17 sustainable goals which encompass all areas of sustainable development inclusive of the Health Sector. In order to achieve the objectives of the SDGs, health care providers must respond effectively and promptly to strengthening the health sector especially in service delivery.

The Minister reminded those present that, “nurses are engaged at every level of the Health Care delivery system with the responsibility of improving the physical, social and mental health and well- being of our nation at every stage of their life. Irrespective of your status, from nursing assistants, registered nurses, senior registered nurses to sisters and matron, you are all important team members and have an important role to play, thus even among you, the level of respect and courtesies must prevail.”

Chief Nursing Officer, Tarmattie Barker who also spoke at the event explained that nurses plays a pivotal role in achieving the SDGs and thereby creating and sustaining healthier individuals, families, groups within the country.

“Each and every nurse has a vital voice to lead and make a difference. We are asking you to that voice as a means to influence and persuade.”

Barker reminded the nurses of the importance of professionalism, adherence to principles and protocols in the health system. She told them that their sphere of influence is extensive and reaches individuals, families, groups, communities, managers, clinicians and governments.

Nurses are the first point of contact for health services which measure their importance to any health sector regardless of the level of nursing. She thanked and encouragement them to continue to work together to deliver quality care which the people of Guyana deserve.



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