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From Left Deryck Cyrus (General Manager Industrial Relations), Idi Stuart (President TTRNA), Letitia Cox (2nd Vice President TTRNA), Kelda Cornwall Gomez (Lead Staff Representative North Branch TTRNA), Not in picture Sharon Lakhan King (Research and Education Officer TTRNA), having a conversation post noncrisis meeting.

The Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) met with the Executive Management team of the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) lead by Ms. Salisha Bashk (Chief Executive Officer Ag). The following members of Ms. Bashk’s team were present: Mr. Terron Gilcrist (Chief Operations Officer), Mr. Deryck Cyrus (General Manager Industrial Relations), Mr. Roy Moses (General Manager Operations). Mr. Idi Stuart (President TTRNA), Ms. Letitia Cox (2nd Vice President TTRNA), Mrs. Kelda Cornwall Gomez (Lead Staff Representative North Branch) represented the Association. 

The following topics were discussed:

1. Permanent Employment

The Authority claims that they do not have the necessary funding to employ staff permanently. However, they are focusing on hiring more Nursing Personnel to address staff shortage.

The Authority claimed that they recently hired sixty (60) Registered Nurses and plan to hire more. The President expressed his gratitude for the hiring of Nursing Personnel however highlighted that the Nursing Staff currently employed on a “Temporary Contract” are disenfranchised. That is to say that such employees cannot proffer such contracts to financial institutions. Mr. Stuart also indicated that the Authority has One Thousand one Hundred and Twelve (1112) positions for Registered Nurses, according to information received from the Ministry of Health.

Furthermore, although the Authority has this number approved, they have only employed six hundred and five (605) permanent Registered Nurses. The Authority and the Association were at an impasse on this issue and TTRNA has indicated our intention to take further action for all our affected members. (If you are one of the affected persons, please contact the Association for intervention)

2. Mental Health Officers There is a long-standing issue where there has been a delay in the appointment of Mental Health Officer’s at the NWRHA.The reason given is that there are insufficient posts available. Members have approached the Association highlighting these issues. The Association indicated to the Authority that it must seek an expansion of the establishment from the Ministry of Health. The Authority agreed with this recommendation however did not commit to a timeline for this to be accomplished.

Performance appraisals: The Mental Health Officer’s also highlighted the need for the establishment of a Mental Health Officer 2 position particularly for supervision and execution of Mental Health Officer’s performance Appraisals. A medical officer currently conducts their performance appraisal. It was recommended that the General Manager of Nursing assume this responsibility until the MHO 2 position is established. The Authority has agreed to provide feedback and some relief in two weeks’time.

3. TTRNA Proposal Re: Health Insurance and Hazard Pay

Mr. Stuart requested feedback on the progress made re: Health Insurance and Hazard pay. The Authority through the CEO stated that the Authority has not received any feedback but was informed that the Permanent Secretary and The Chief Personnel Officer are carded to discuss same.

4. Flexi Time The Authority informed the Association that Flexi-Time will continue and will be at the discretion of the Head of Department within the Health Facilities.

TTRNA thanked the Authority for extending this facility to the staff which has been widely accepted and praised by Nursing Personnel.

5. Vacation

The Authority confirmed that vacation leave has resumed and there are no more restrictions.

6. Issues at St Ann’s Hospital

Water Shortage The Association highlighted the longstanding issue of water shortage at St Ann’s Hospital and the hardship that it has caused Nursing Personnel attached to the facility.

The Association therefore highlighted the need for tanks with pumps that streamline water directly to the wards. The Authority indicated that they have embarked on a plan to ensure all priority wards have tanks with pumps. An assessment will be carried out to ascertain these needs. Eventually, all wards will be given a tank, but it will be done incrementally.

Safety concerns at Temporary Forensic unit Members of staff at the Male Forensic unit highlighted concerns to the Association, regarding their safety at the proposed Temporary unit. This unit will facilitate the renovation of the current forensic unit. The current unit has been plagued with inadequacies such as the entry to the ward and proper fencing around the perimeter. The Authority stated that the entry and exit were dealt with and a workable solution was derived by both staff attached to the unit and management in a recent site visit. The Authority also agreed to have the perimeter fenced. The Association was also informed that the renovated forensic unit is projected to be completed in 4 months.

7. George Street Health Centre

The Association highlighted the plight of the Nursing Personnel at George street Health Centre with emphasis on the non-functional security cameras. The Chief Executive Officer admitted that the Authority encountered difficulties in the procurement process and will provide feedback in one (1) week regarding same.

The Association would like to thank the Authority for facilitating this non-crisis meeting and for all the efforts they have made to have issues we have highlighted addressed. It is of great concern however, that we have at least two very critical areas that remain unresolved. These include Health Insurance/Hazard Pay and Job security through the provision of permanent employment to Nursing Personnel. The Association would like to reassure our members that we would do all that is legally possible to have these matters resolved expeditiously!

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