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UK and Jamaica form partnership to plug nurse staffing gaps

Nurses and academics in the UK and Jamaica could soon be changing places under the terms of an innovative faculty exchange and rotation programme.
Celia Grandison-Markey

Nurses and academics in the UK and Jamaica could soon be swapping countries regularly under the terms of an innovative faculty exchange and rotation programme

The proposal by Jamaican health minister Christopher Tufton is to be fully explored by a new joint working group made up of representatives of both governments.

Dr Tufton pitched his idea during a UK visit this week as a mutually beneficial way of addressing nurse shortages in both countries, the Jamaica Observer reports.

Full details of the arrangement are to be confirmed later, but it would see lecturers from UK universities teaching at Jamaicas main institutions to train more specialist nursing staff.

Mutual benefit

Celia Grandison-Markey is confident the Jamaica/UK partnership will move forward quickly. Photo: Paul Stuart

Nurses Association of Jamaica (UK) chair Celia Grandison-Markey, who accompanied Dr Tufton during his visit, said: This sounds

Nurses and academics in the UK and Jamaica could soon be swapping countries regularly under the terms of an innovative faculty exchange and rotation programme

The proposal by Jamaican health minister Christopher Tufton is to be fully explored by a new joint working group made up of representatives of both governments.

Dr Tufton pitched his idea during a UK visit this week as a mutually beneficial way of addressing nurse shortages in both countries, the Jamaica Observer reports.

Full details of the arrangement are to be confirmed later, but it would see lecturers from UK universities teaching at Jamaica’s main institutions to train more specialist nursing staff.

Mutual benefit

Celia Grandison-Markey
Celia Grandison-Markey is confident
 the Jamaica/UK partnership will move
forward quickly.   Photo: Paul Stuart

Nurses Association of Jamaica (UK) chair Celia Grandison-Markey, who accompanied Dr Tufton during his visit, said: ‘This sounds a mutually beneficial partnership and I commend the minister for suggesting it.

‘I’m pleased by the nature of the discussions so far and think they are fair and equal to both sides.

‘I have full confidence the programme will move forward quickly, but if it doesn’t it will not be his (Dr Tufton’s) fault as he has done all you would expect a minister to do.’

Ms Grandison-Markey’s organisation has a history of supporting nurse development in Jamaica, especially providing funding for much-needed equipment and medicines.

 

Recruitment struggle

Jamaica is currently struggling to recruit enough of its own tutors and international standards prevent it from training more nurses without sufficient lecturers in place.

Dr Tufton's plan would see newly-qualified nurses agree to work in the UK for a period of time, which would help plug workforce gaps.

During his UK stay Dr Tufton visited the RCN headquarters in London and London South Bank University. He also met with nurse recruitment agencies and visited the statue of Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole at St Thomas’ Hospital.

International Council of Nurses director of nursing policy Howard Catton said: ‘This is exactly the type of initiative that can deliver mutual benefit to both sending and receiving countries and be a win-win for all.

‘However it is clear that it needs planning, commitment and involvement from all players and cannot just be left to the market.’

Geneva commission

Both Mr Catton and Dr Tufton had earlier attended the High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth at the World Health Organization in Geneva.

There, Dr Tufton highlighted his country’s lack of specialist nurses, many of whom are reported to have left for higher-paying jobs in the US and Europe.

The Jamaican government confirmed: ‘[Dr Tufton] will undertake a series of meetings with the health secretary and leading officials and agencies in the health sector.’

A UK Department of Health spokesperson said: 'Dr Tufton met with parliamentary-under-secretary of state Lord O'Shaughnessy and agreed to create a working group to explore opportunities to benefit our respective health systems in the future.'


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