Hospital facing “critical” shortage of nurses
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — Healthcare jobs continue to be in high demand in the Caribbean, with Barbados noting it has a shortage of nurses despite ongoing recruitment efforts.
Especially during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers across the globe faced unprecedentedly high demand.
While new cases continue, although related restrictions have gradually eased, the need for these skilled workers has largely continued.
This is notably the case not just in the Caribbean, but in countries like Australia and the United Kingdom, which has been battling a severe labour shortage crisis.
In Barbados, the public healthcare system has struggled with finding nurses to fill available roles.
According to a government statement, it has undertaken initiatives designed to “increase the output of nurses from the Barbados Community College” as well as “enhance retention programmes for local nurses.”
However, despite these efforts, local healthcare officials said their need for nurses in particular remains “great.”
More nurses recruited from abroad
In an effort to fill the healthcare gap in Barbados, the government recently recruited a second cohort of nurses from Ghana.
More than 100 nurses officially arrived in the country recently, adding to the nearly 100 that were initially recruited in 2020.
While announcing the arrival of the new reinforcements, the government highlighted that its need for nurses was so great that it exceeds local capacity.
“The second cohort of nurses from Ghana will be assigned to public health institutions across the island over the next two years,” according to a statement.
“The first group came to Barbados in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“While Queen Elizabeth Hospital had a complement of over 800 nurses, this was still not enough to address local needs…”
In contrast, a Ghanian health official said his nation trains some 20,000 nurses every year — far more than the country needs.
“We cannot consume these numbers locally; we need to support other nations internationally,” he said.
Caribbean healthcare workers also being recruited abroad
Meanwhile, Caribbean healthcare workers in particular continue to face targeted recruitment from employers abroad.
Since this past summer, Caribbean Employment Services Inc. has noted an uptick in foreign employers looking to the Caribbean to fill labour shortage gaps especially in healthcare, although not exclusively.
Healthcare jobs from nurses to senior care workers, mental health professionals and more have been recruited more intensely this past year.
Interestingly, this begs the question of whether labour shortages will persist as more Caribbean workers take up attractive offers to work abroad.