Nurses 'need better wages'
Manama, July 7, 2007
Bahrain needs to invest more in its nurses and monitor their performance if it wants to improve the profession, says a top official.
Low pay is one of the main reasons for Bahrain's nurses leaving the country for higher salaries overseas, said Bahrain Nursing Society president Rula Al Saffar.
She added that even other GCC countries were paying more to meet their nursing shortfalls.
However, Al Saffar says the departure of Bahrain's senior nurses is compounding a shortage that already exists in this country.
Nursing shortages are a global phenomenon, which is why she says Bahrain must step up its efforts to retain the nurses it already has.
She also wants to see more being done to plug the shortage of 800 nurses in Bahrain.
'Nurses are quitting due to low salaries,' she said.
'Other GCC countries are offering more and this is why our best nurses are leaving. They are getting recognised and paid well.
'We in Bahrain are currently 800 nurses short. We are hiring nurses from overseas. However, migration of nurses is helping one country and milking another.
'I urge His Majesty King Hamad and the Prime Minister to look into this matter because I would hate to see Bahrain suffering a severe shortage in the coming years.'
Al Saffar, who recently participated in the International Council of Nurses conference in Yokohama, Japan, claimed that many nurses recruited from Asia come to the Gulf to work so that they can get experience before moving to the UK and US.
This is due to competition resulting from a global shortage of 4.3 million nurses, doctors and midwives, according to the World Health Organisation figures.
The Health Ministry in May last year announced it was doubling its training budget, tripling student enrolment and improving salaries for nurses.
Minister Dr Nada Haffadh said that the budget for training nurses at the College of Health Sciences in Salmaniya would increase from BD1.5 million to BD3m, while annual student enrolment would gradually increase from 100 to 300 over the coming years.
She also pledged better salaries and incentives.
It was revealed at the time that the ministry had been working since 2004 to increase the ratio of nurses for every 10,000 people from 44.4 to 90 by 2014.
However, Al Saffar said it was important to make sure that nurse educators were of the highest quality to ensure the best standard of nursing care.
'We need to pay more attention and not hire weak nurses to be educators,' she said.
'We must also not increase the number of nurses on a mass production basis without having good educators and good evaluation tools.
'A weak educator will foster a weak student and ultimately a weak nurse.
'We as health team members and management need to ask whether Bahrain is really ready for the unexpected?
'We should be running simulation drills to strengthen the health team, members and communication.'
She also accused the Civil Services Bureau of meddling in the issue of nurses' pay and said there had been a delay in the improvement of salaries.
'Why is there a delay?' she asked. 'We have been negotiating with them for the past two-and-a-half years.
'The phase that people are talking about has covered a few nurses who already had better salaries.
'We have given them all the needed documents, we have even given them the Bahrain Nursing Society proposals.
'We have done the homework and they are still waiting, for what?
'We urge the King and the Prime Minister to look into the matter.'
She also said the nurses deserved to be paid properly for their efforts.
'Nurses in Bahrain are trying their best, but they have so much on their plate,' she said.
'They are asked to do a lot without an increase in pay. Why? It's because nurses in the past have done that.