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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (File photo)
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (File photo)
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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has defended his government’s move to bond locally trained nurses, saying it does not contradict his statement some time ago that his government is training nurses for export.

“No, the bonding is not in contradiction of that because at the time — persons didn’t listen to what I say, that we are producing more than enough for ourselves and to export. And that has been the case since 2002,” he said on radio on Sunday.

Last week, the prime minister announced on state-owned radio that the bond would begin with the current cohorts of nursing students.

And, speaking on WE FM on Sunday, the prime minister noted that people who received national scholarships and bursaries are bonded, but it did not apply to nurses, who are also trained at the expense of the state.

“It’s only our nurses, because we used to produce so many, and the demand had not grown as great. But now that the demand is very great, we have to give consideration to bonding them.”

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He said that Vincentian nurses are migrating because of the high demand for nurses, particularly in Britain, but also in the United States.

“We need to keep some for ourselves,” Gonsalves said, adding that the country had had an excess of nurses because it was training more than it needed, and even facilitated arrangements for them to work overseas.

“But now, there’s a significant flight because of the demands, through COVID, in Britain, especially, but also the US. So we will have to do some, some temporary corrective in that regard,” the prime minister said.

He said that he had spoken to the chief personnel officer and also the director of the Community College in this regard.

“Because remember those students, we’re giving them practically a free education, and also paying them $1,000 a month while going to school.

“I don’t think that they can complain if they have to do a few years before the time they consider to leave. I noticed when I made that announcement that some persons, for political reasons, pounced on me and attacked me. I don’t know — people attack you for anything,” he said.

The prime minister said there was “a huge shortage of nurses” when his government came to office in March 2001. Hence, in September 2001 it recruited 20 from Cuba, who stayed for two years.

That same month, his government began training100 nurses per year, giving them a free education and an EC$1,000 stipend per month.

There are people who oppose me doing that, you know,” Gonsalves said.

“But I knew what we were doing — it’s a poverty-reduction measure — poor people children, children of the poor, the working people, the farmers, could get an education nursing because it’s an expensive programme; it’s the most expensive programme of the programmes which are done locally.”

He said the programme continued without any bonding of the nurses.  

“I didn’t see the sense in bonding the nurses because we were producing more than enough in terms of the supply and demand.

“In fact, there are some nurses who are qualified, couldn’t get jobs because they weren’t yet going overseas.”

Gonsalves said that at that time, the British market was only accepting nurses with full degrees and not those with associate degrees or regional certification.

“Then they changed that as the demand became greater,” he said, adding that the UK market began accepting graduates from the local nursing school and those with regional certification.

“And in order to move the way in which countries are moving all over the world towards the degrees, we move towards the degrees,” the prime minister said, adding that nursing degrees are being offered locally through the University of the West Indies. 

The degrees, we’re articulating the degree for UWI, Mona. You do the programme here but you get a degree from UWA, Mona.

The prime minister said that just before the coronavirus pandemic, SVG began to see an increase in the migration of nurses.

In fact, I don’t know if you noticed we had stopped for a few years doing the associate degree nursing programme. We’re starting back because we had to make up time because of a growing shortage because of the numbers who are going and then that has accelerated since COVID because the British, they have a serious shortage, United States, too.”

He said that individual nurses were seeing jobs overseas and then recruiting their friends, while others were recruited through agencies.

So, the circumstances have altered. And, therefore, you have to make sure that if you are given a free nursing education, or almost a free nursing education, we’re paying $1,000 a month to them — to the nursing students, surely you should get a few years back.

“There’s not a contradiction. It’s application of the same principle in a different situation,” Gonsalves said.

8 replies on “Bond doesn’t contradict training nurses for export statement, PM says”

  1. This government is absolutely ridiculous at this point. You see the issue of Nurses who have strong ties to our country leaving in large numbers and the first solution that you come up with is to bond the nurses who were rendered replaceable and mistreated.

    Why hasn’t the Government hear the cries of Nurses? They are working to the point of being thoroughly burnt out. They work 6 FULL days a week, and still hours overtime! Their shift NEVER ends when it’s supposed to end. Never a penny in overtime. When they petitioned for the 3 12-hours shift a week they were IGNORED by the Prime Minister. But the Nurses have families, they have lives, they aren’t robots and they are tired!

    When they BEG for better working conditions they are ignored. They are beginning to suffering under this Government! Nurses leaving the country to the point we cannot maintain our demand should spell it out clearly to everyone. The nurses in this country are SUFFERING. This post has honestly disappointed me and completely destroyed my faith in this government. How can you notice so many nurses leaving and still ignore all of their problems? The message has become clear, this government no longer cares about people.

  2. Yes, Don’t they know that the PM is worthy of being worshipped? He takes 1000.$ out of his pocket of millions, Since the government pays all his other silly bills (such as rent, travel and entertainment) to pay each of these nursing students, so that we will not have thousands more street vendors because of the high taxes that discourage start-up businesses in many other fields. In this way, since all the fees, deductions and taxes make it impossible for start-up businesses to employ anyone, we can all worship government instead of having a thriving private sector that produces an exchange of goods and services, and revenue to pay for these nurses. Instead, the PM borrows money so as to pay for things so that the middle-class has to pay it back in the comming years, perpetuating it all! Great economics! But if we ever have any debt problems in the future, be sure it is all the fault of the unvaccinated!

  3. You keep on doing what you are doing. Those people who critique in saint Vincent us people who just don’t have nothing to do and don’t care about how saint vincent prosper

    No matter how you look at this, it is a form of slavery. You are effectively forcing people to work/give service in exchange for the opportunity to earn a better living elsewhere.
    And what’s this sh_t about I “paying” them and I “giving” them free nursing education etc? It is NOT your personal money that pays for the nurses’ education. Besides, it is YOUR job to provide the employment environment/policies by which ALL who wish to do so, can pursue a better life for their families.This is NOT your plantation! You cannot tie/keep/bond people to this country and encumber their dreams and progress!
    I would urge you to re-think this idea of bondage as a solution to the shortage of nurses. How about raising their wages to a level competitive to those overseas?

  5. Monica, You’re still commenting nonsense on the people’s page? You’re determined to continually display your lack of understanding.


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