NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) president Dr Melisande Bassett blasted the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) over its decision to employ only 25 of the 35 intern physicians who have been on the COVID-19 frontlines.
She called the move a reversal of its decision, adding to leave just one intern behind is “unacceptable”.
“That’s unacceptable because I don’t know if you’re aware that currently the Medical Act of 2014 does not grant licensure to practice privately outside of the hospital without 18 months post internship training within the hospital.”
“So, those 10, 15 — I don’t care what the number is — if they are disadvantaged, at the end of the day all of that money, time and effort that they would have invested goes to naught because they have to find a new career and can’t continue; that’s unacceptable.
“And I think just one person is a travesty and the government needs to make sure it’s investment, because it paid for most persons educations, that their investment, the return on the Bahamian people’s investment has some value.
“You cannot throw people away and say, I don’t need you now, thank you for your service.
“Those interns worked hard, very hard and it would be a blight on The Bahamas and history won’t record this favorably if even one or two of them aren’t given the opportunity to seek private practice at the end of this because they will be essentially crippled.”
Bassett said the proposed date passed, and there has been no official communication since.
She also said while the authority’s focus may be on the fiscal constraints, doctors are required amid the ongoing pandemic, with healthcare workers from all divisions being impacted by quarantine measures following potential exposures, and even infections.
Earlier this month, the PHA pointed to fiscal restraints on the Public Hospitals Authority’s (PHA) ability to hire and said it found it regrettable the union sought to mislead the public regarding the employment status of junior doctors.
The authority said it acts a teaching institution, and provides opportunities for medical graduates to advance their training through the completion of the one-year internship, as required for the licensure within the Bahamas Medical Council.
The one-year contracts for the interns began on July 1, 2019, and ended on June 30, 2020.
“We realize and appreciated the disappointed that may be caused by the fact that our current fiscal status does not allow for unlimited hiring,” she read.
“The PHA recognizes the innumerable contributions and sacrifices of the house officers to our institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the fiscal impact of this pandemic has significantly altered our course and reduced our operating budgets for the 2020 and beyond.
“Interns from the 2019 to 2020 are eligible to apply for vacant senior house officer positions in our three institution as of July 10, 2010.”
In response, the BDU incomprehensible that the goodwill and sacrifice of so many frontline physicians could be rewarded with “avarice and apathy”.