Gov’t unhappy nurses are migrating but say their hands are tied

Editorial Staff

May 12, 2023

Nurses during protest 2018 (File Photo)

Where increasing the salary of nurses is concerned, the government is finding it difficult to match the standards of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada

Nurses are leaving the island in droves, seeking greener pastures.

Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister Lionel Max Hurst told the weekly Cabinet press briefing yesterday that the government is not happy that these healthcare workers are leaving

But he said the government is just not able to increase their pay just yet and match the salaries of the more developed countries.

Instead, he said that the government is relying on the expertise of nurses from Cuba and the region to fill in the gap.

“We agree that it would be of great importance to have nurses remain in Antigua rather than go off to some other countries that have more attractive salaries and conditions. It’s something we cannot compete with at this time. Maybe at some point in our future history, we’ll be able to pay nurses a salary commensurate with what they would earn in a place like the United States or the United Kingdom. But that time has not yet arrived,” Hurst said

He said while it is a hard pill to swallow, the government has never placed stumbling blocks in the way of nurses wishing to travel abroad to work

“And as you know, it requires us, therefore, to help to train more and more nurses so that we will never be short on nurse supply, although at the moment we are a bit short and have asked Cuba and 1 or 2 other countries to provide us with nurses when the need arises,” he said

He said training opportunities will also be provided for nurses, in addition to qualification prospects at the UWI Five Islands.

“And part of the reason for having the University of the West Indies at five islands present is so that we can produce even more nurses than we customarily produce in a year. And our expectation is that we might be able to reach a level of sufficiency in a very short period of time. If that is not the case, then we will continue to rely on some of our Caribbean neighbors to supply us with nurses whenever the need arises,” he added

All this comes as nurses in Antigua and Barbuda are today observing International Nurses Day.

The observance is used to focus on the nursing profession and the value of nurses to the healthcare delivery system.

A boast cruise tomorrow will end the week of activities but today Friday, they will participate in a luncheon for nurses from the health institutions, Sir Lester Bird Medical Centre, Clarevue Hospital, the Fiennes Institute, and the health clinics around the island.

It will also cater to nursing personnel, such as the community health aides who work along with nurses in the health care system. Approximately 300 nurses are expected to attend.

This event takes place at the association’s building on the Queen Elizabeth Highway.

Soria Dupie-Winston, the President of the Antigua and Barbuda Nurses Association says the organization will be footing the bill to show appreciation for healthcare workers

The observance of International Nurses Day is held on the anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, generally considered the mother of modern nursing. It also formed part of the activities to mark Nurses Week 2023

The relationship between the government and nurses has always been cordial, especially in recent times. 


  1. Fed Up With All The Lies

    Make this make sense please some one/anyone

    How is is that the Government can find money to pay the nurses from Cuba and can’t find a way to increase the salaries of the nurses here?
    I am confused…


  2. Joyrose

    Here goes the dunce caps, again.
    None of them knows about compare and contrast or ratio?
    If they were to add all expenses and man power, i.e, orientation training for the Cubans, wouldn’t it be more economically to just raise the nurses’ salaries?


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