After more than 50 years, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is pushing new legislation for the management and improvement in the delivery of healthcare throughout The Bahamas. On Wednesday, February 1, 2023, the Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville opened debate on the Nurses and Midwives Bill 2022, aimed at repealing the 1971 Act.
“After more than 50 years, it is safe to say that the repeal and replacement of the Nursing and Midwives Act 1971 is long overdue,” Dr. Darville said.
“This new Bill is for the management and delivery of healthcare in our country. The profession of Nursing is evolving and it is critical that we keep pace with these developments,” he told Parliament.
Dr. Darville deemed it a “New Day” for nurses throughout the country who have for years been advocating for change in the practice and administration of healthcare.
“I am privileged to stand to my feet to move this progressive piece of legislation that seeks to repeal and replace the current Nurses and Midwives Act 1971. On behalf of the Bahamian people and all of us who provide healthcare services on a daily basis I say thank you for your hard work and labor of love.”
The legislation seeks to expand the practice of nursing and midwifery, continue the work of the Nursing Council of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, the Registrar and the Nursing Tribunal, provide for the training, regulation, registration, enrollment and licensing necessary for the continued professional development of nurses and midwives.
“Just as it was recognized in 1971 that the Act of 1926 needed to be upgraded to accommodate the evolution of the nursing profession, we understand the importance of further modernizing the legislative framework for the oversight of the nursing profession with the repeal and replacement of the Nurses and Midwifes Act 1971 some 52 years later, with this new Nurses and Midwives Bill 2022,” Dr. Darville said.
This Bill is for the advancement of the almost 1,700 nurses and 200 midwives across the public and private healthcare sector who, to date, are working in the clinics and hospitals throughout The Bahamas.
“This Bill is also for the nurses and midwives who came before and served in our communities, many of them providing care and practice that was notably ahead of their time,” Dr. Darville said.
The Bill also speaks specifically to the various categories of nurses and the need for continuous training, regulation, and preservation of the standards of the profession.
This Bill gives interpretation to terms such as licensed practical nurse, nurse intern, a new category of nurses known as the advanced practice nurse, nurse practitioner and other terms deemed necessary in order to reference the role of the nurse in a modern society.
It also goes into detail explaining the meaning of “practice of nursing, practice of midwifery” and the relevant competency skills and other roles and functions within each scope of practice, Dr Darville said.
“The Bill also ensures that the profession is not compromised because these qualifications have to be met in order to be registered and subsequently licensed. In this way, our nurses can rest assured that they are working beside equally qualified counterparts while on the job,” he added.
While improvements are made in how healthcare services are delivered, and enhancements and expansion are made to the health infrastructure, Dr. Darville further explained that his ministry is keen to complete the comprehensive approach to reform by ensuring that legislation, regulations and policies that strengthen the practice of health professionals are updated.
“This new Bill is for the management and delivery of healthcare in our country. The profession of Nursing is evolving and it is critical that we keep pace with these developments,” Dr. Darville said.