As early as next week, 119 foreign doctors and 450 foreign nurses will begin to arrive in T&T to work. Parliamentary Secretary in the Health Ministry Wesley George said this yesterday during the graduation ceremony of the Operating Theatre Nursing Training Programme held at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) in Mt Hope.
George said the only reason foreign doctors and nurses were being hired was due to the shortage of local doctors. He said the first batch of doctors were coming from Cuba and would be assigned to the various hospitals in their various specialties. He added that the Health Sector did not have sufficient locals to fill these positions, but hoped within the next five years this would change. George said the Government had embarked on different training initiatives to assist in making this happen. He noted that in addition to this yearlong Theatre Nursing Training Programme, the government has granted scholarships to nationals and entered into partnerships with foreign institutions to increase local health professionals' technological capacity and skills, to become better qualified.
Echoing similar sentiments was the keynote speaker and board member of the North Central Regional Health Authority(NCRHA), Molly Wheeler, who said there was a nationwide shortage of health professionals due to migration. Wheeler said, "Migration has contributed to the shortage of health professionals and it was worse now than in the 90s." She, however, encouraged the graduands to stay and give back to their country as there was a shortage, especially in the area of Theatre Nursing. George assured the 23 graduands that the Government was doing all it could to improve the working conditions.
Another initiative soon to be launched was the National Health Service (NHS) and the E-Health Card, he said. NHS, he said was a modernised, integrated system of health delivery, tied together with the E-card, which was an electronic card that provided access to online medical records, appointment scheduling and test records locally and internationally. George added this would provide citizens with an essential package of health care services.