Ministry of Health to hire new staff
New staff have been approved for the Ministry of Health to address shortages that have worsened under the Bermuda Government hiring freeze.
In particular, reinforcements have been earmarked for Ageing and Disability Services, according to Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health.
Speaking with The Royal Gazette in the wake of complaints over a lack of resources at the K Margaret Carter Centre for the disabled, Ms Wilson confirmed that the facility would be among those to get extra staff. According to a spokeswoman, the freeze has put the ministry as a whole down 82 at 355 posts. Fifty of those 82 posts already have funds allocated, meaning that there would be no need to seek extra funding from outside the ministry’s budget.
Saying the freeze had presented “challenges with respect to providing full support”, Ms Wilson said: “We presented a request to the Premier, who agreed to allow me to hire for Ageing and Disability Services. We recognise the challenges with respect to resources, and have taken immediate steps.”
The K Margaret Carter Centre, where case workers are stretched to serve 48 clients, is expected to get five new hires — one-third of its total positions — with a permanent administrator put in place by autumn after three years of interim management.
Meanwhile, the Centre’s facility on Roberts Avenue has been refurbished this summer with its services relocated to CedarBridge Academy. Clients are expected to return to the original centre later this month.
Details on recruitment plans are scant this early in the process, and Ms Wilson stressed that Government hiring can be time consuming.
But with Tineé Furbert assigned the specific portfolio of Junior Minister for Disabilities, the minister said it was “safe to say it’s important for this Government to create an inclusive community”.
Restrictions on Government hiring have been used since 2011 to cut costs, and its repercussions for health were acknowledged as a “serious concern” by the former minister, Jeanne Atherden, who said the withdrawal in 2015 of furlough days for civil servants had forced the freezing of 14 posts at the Department of Health. According to a frustrated parent of a special-needs adult, Centre workers are under strain with seven clients per member of staff.
However, Ms Wilson commended David Northcott, the facility’s acting administrator, for a “sterling” performance.
“The facility at Roberts Avenue is an old building that needs maintaining. One of the challenges is that it was only closed three days a year, making it hard to do repair work. But we’re hoping to continue with regular maintenance to the standards its clients deserve.”
She added that stronger legislation to protect the vulnerable for rest homes and those of diminished mental capacity is “likely” to be seen in the coming legislative session.
In addition, a strategy for the long-term care of the disabled, as well as seniors, is to be boosted from a one-year plan to a three- to five-year strategy.
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