The new board of the General Nurses Council of Guyana has been encouraged to “breathe new life into the council,” by Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence who welcomed the new body during yesterday’s installation ceremony.
Held at Herdmanston Lodge, Queenstown, the small ceremony was attended by Lawrence, Minister within the Ministry of Public Health Dr. Karen Cummings, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karen Boyle, members of the new board of the Nurses Council and other staff from the Ministry.
The General Nurses Council of Guyana is a semi-autonomous body whose responsibilities include the administering of examinations, registration of nurses, midwives and nursing assistants, establishing standards of education and practice, maintaining professional registers, and determining entry requirements for the programme leading to admission to the registry.
The Council, as explained by Registrar Donnette Kellman, is headed by the Chief Nursing Officer Linda Johnson and comprises of 14 other members. Six of these are appointed by the government while the others are elected and represent registered nurses, midwives and nursing assistants.
According to Kellman, to date, the council has conducted three of twelve scheduled nursing examinations, and has renewed the nursing licences of 2669 nurses.
In addition, the Council, whose office is located at Lot 10 Fort Street, Kingston, Georgetown, plans to make at least one visit this year to most of the health care institutions throughout the country.
Meanwhile, Lawrence in her remarks first thanked the members of the previous board for their contributions before extending a warm welcome to the new board members.
She continued by reiterating the ministry’s commitment to advancing nursing education in Guyana and called on the body to ensure the production of a core of quality and competent nurses.
“I believe that we have to start within, in order to provide the best care to our people. This means that we have to work in unison; teamwork will be the key to achieving our objective. I want to ask you to set smart goals. The Ministry of Public Health and this council must work in sync to build the vital synergy that will propel us to the attainment of these goals,” the Minister said
She also encouraged the new council to act in the best interest of those they are representing, saying, “As members of the council you have to be prepared to work assiduously to empower our nurses; you have the authority and the voice under the law to ensure that their needs are met…I am urging you councillors, to listen to their concerns and respond with care and compassion as you exercise the functions of the office.”
In the same breath, the Minister reminded the council to make use of rules and regulations, but to also consider the stage of development in that sector, as she noted, “We are not a First World country and too many times people expect First World service from us. We are building and as we build and with your input we are going to reach there but we are not there now. And as you use the rules and regulations that guide this council, I am asking you to use your judgement and to act within the confines of the rules.”
“I call upon you to be innovative, I want you to breathe new life into the council and don’t take what is there and believe that that is the way we have to continue to operate, make suggestions. Perhaps we have to make some changes to the laws and regulations so that we could be able to move to that next level…it is for you to give that advice,” Lawrence said.
“I want you to not only sit and have meetings…come out as a council, go into the environment where the nurses are and make some visits and see how the nurses are complying with the rules and regulations. More so look at what inhibits them from doing so in their environment because it is okay for someone to give you a list of duties but if they don’t give you the tools to do it then you don’t have the means and that is another issue. So I want us to be fair in our judgement and I don’t want us to sit in a room and make decisions without investigating and knowing what is actually happening on the ground,” she added.
The Minister also touched on the topic of registration of nurses as she called on the council to ensure that each individual meets the criteria and are “fit and proper” before they are registered.
“Don’t register any and every person. You analyze and be very careful that they meet the criteria because if we put garbage in, we get garbage out. So let us make sure that whatever we put our pens too that those persons are sound, qualified and that they meet all requirements in order to be registered,” Lawrence said.
She also urged the council to ensure that information is effectively shared with those in the Hinterland, since in many instances information is not being shared with them.
“I want you to treat them especially so that we can bring them on par with what is happening on the coast so that we don’t have to have persons from the coasts going to the Hinterland. We believe that our brothers and sisters in the Hinterland are capable too…I want you to remember that when we talk about training, professional development and raising the standards in the healthcare programme,” Lawrence shared.
“It is important for us to make every effort to restore our nursing to its former glory and I believe that you can be a pivotal element in making that happen,” she concluded.