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Idi Stuart, President of the T&T Registered Nurses? Association.

There is growing concern among health care stakeholders, that nurses and other health care workers assigned to the South West Regional Health Authority are on the brink of burnout following the rollout of the government’s vaccination programme.

According to Idi Stuart, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association, front-line workers are now forced to work longer hours to meet the demands of administering the jabs to combat COVID-19.

The national vaccination programme commenced on Tuesday, one week after a shipment containing 33,600 doses of the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine from the COVAX facility arrived in the country.

A day after the arrival of the vaccines, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh at the Health Ministry’s news conference said the aim was to vaccinate 1,000 people a day. He added then if that was done, the first 16, 000 doses can be administered “within two and a half weeks.”

But speaking on CNC3’s the Morning Brew yesterday, Stuart said the move to extend the working hours of nurses to meet the increased demands by the public to get vaccinated was done without consultation and has placed them under more strain.

“ In the southwest, they have mandated health centres because of the short shelf life of these vaccines, which is just over a month, they are trying the get their staff to work 12-hour shift from 6 am to 6 pm. It is a human resource issue which they would not have thought about had they try to consult with us,” he said.

Stuart maintained the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed nurses to conditions that threaten their health, well-being, and ability to work.

Meanwhile, the head of the nurses association called for more to be done to address other languishing health issues which could worsen their survival chances if they contract COVID-19.

“Unfortunately our health centres do not focus on health care, our health centres focus on sickness care, we wait until you get sick, come down with comorbid illnesses and then we try to treat you at a great expense to the country.”

Stuart stressed that improving the wellness of members of the public will reduce the fallout from future medical health crises.