Director praises colleagues as Nurses Week closes, while health minister says their contract negotiations are almost at end

As the 2023 National Nursesall  Week comes to a close, the director of nursing at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre is thanking the healthcare workers for their hard work and dedication over the years in spite of many struggles.

In a communiqué to the nurses, Jacqueline Jno-Baptiste writes, “Thank you. We see you. We support you. We need you. You are truly the backbone of healthcare.”

She is also encouraging nurses to continue giving their all in caring for the Nation of Antigua and Barbuda.

Jno-Baptiste uses the occasion to extend special thanks to the hospital’s nursing team, noting that, each and every day, its members work hard to raise the bar for both the patients and the organization, wearing many hats and playing many roles.

She says that nurses support other healthcare providers, patients, administration, staff and everyone in between.  In short, she says, nothing could be done without them, and the hospital is honoured to have them in its employ.  

In her opinion, there is no better profession than nursing – “the heart and soul of which has never changed.”

Jno Baptiste adds that “nursing is – and always will be – the most humbling, meaningful and rewarding of any profession,” as she thanks the nurses for their humanity, humility and compassion.

This year’s Nurses Week theme was, “Investing in our Nurses Means Investing in our Future.”  The Week opened on Saturday, May 6, and concluded on Friday, May 12, International Nurses Day, when retired nurses, along with other healthcare personnel, were hosted to a luncheon by the Association.

But still to come, on Saturday, May 13, is the last activity – a dinner and dance under the stars onboard the Mystic Cruises from Tropical Adventures.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph says that negotiations with the Nurses Association are close to complete.  And, earlier this week, the Association’s president confirmed that – except for salary increases – it was mostly pleased about the discussions held with the hospital board and Government.

However, it is believed that some amicable resolution will be reached on the sticking point.

Joseph says the Government’s success with the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers’ (ABUT) formed the basis for concluding the negotiations.  “Negotiations with several other unions, whose membership numbers are smaller, will soon commence,” he says.

However, on Wednesday, May 10, the Cabinet reiterated that, as the country’s largest employer, the Government can provide only moderate increases to wages and salaries – unless it increases taxes commensurately.

On Labour Day, Finance Minister Gaston Browne also warned public servants that there could be layoffs if they continue to push for higher increases than his administration can afford at this time.