Barbados Health and Wellness Minister has lauded the recent integration of Ghanaian nurses into their public healthcare system which he said has boosted its efficiency of healthcare.

Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic said one of such improvements would see to the extension of the operating hours of the St John polyclinic.

Speaking at a Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) political meeting in the Glebe on Monday, h said the 95 nurses who arrived from Ghana in July this year were already working at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and polyclinics across the island.

There was controversy shortly after the arrival of the nurses as nine of them tested positive for Covid-19 while another tested positive for malaria.

The Health Minister said the nurses had fully recovered and would be an asset in the delivery of public healthcare services.

“…within the next few weeks, we are going to extend the opening hours of the polyclinic at St John from 8 am to 8 pm, seven days a week in the first instance, before we go the full 24 hours,” Col Bostic said.

He disclosed that full services would be provided at that polyclinic including X-rays, dialysis and an asthma bay.

Col Bostic added that they are in talks with the Transport Board to facilitate better bus routes from St George, St Andrew, St Joseph and the surrounding parishes to ensure persons could access the services being offered at the St John polyclinic were already underway.

Speaking to reporters, the QEH’s executive chairman, Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, confirmed that 46 Ghanaian nurses were now working there.

She said they had been providing their services for several weeks and had been “well received” by the general public.

“The nurses have completed their orientation and have started working in their various specialty areas across the hospital, and they have been so far well received,” Bynoe-Sutherland said.

“So far, we have had no complaints [or] negative feedback associated with those nurses.”

She said each nurse from Ghana had been assigned a local nurse to be a preceptor – a Barbadian nurse who would support them in transitioning to the QEH, practising in a new environment and adjusting to a new culture – for two months.

During the political meeting, Bostic also revealed that the polyclinic in St George would soon be renamed.

“I am also happy to say that I took a proposal to Cabinet which Cabinet accepted. The process was started several years ago when polyclinics were renamed after persons who had done well in health. There are a few polyclinics like St Philip and the Glebe, which have not been renamed,” he noted.

“I am happy to announce tonight that Cabinet has agreed and, in very short order, that polyclinic at the Glebe will be called the Freddy Miller Polyclinic in honour of Frederick Miller who represented this constituency in the 1960s, who was a Minister of Health, and who was responsible for the early years of the development of public health care services in Barbados,” Bostic said to much applause.