The English-speaking Caribbean is in the midst of a crisis of shortages of nurses with an average vacancy rate of 42 percent. Low pay, poor career prospects, and lack of education opportunities are among the reasons nurses resign. Many of these nurses look outside the region for job opportunities in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and other countries. It is estimated that 21,500 nurses trained in the region now work in Britain, Canada and the United States – that’s three times as many as those in their home countries. Compounding the situation is the lack of resources to train nurses to fill the vacancies. In addition, the demand for nurses exceeds their supply throughout the region: 3,300 or 30 percent of all positions in the sector were vacant at the time of the study.
Now St. Lucia is losing an average of two nurses a week to migration and the shortage is beginning to having a negative effect on the Ministry of Health’s ability to deliver primary and secondary health services.