BDU president: Junior doctors transfer will be “disruptive”

BDU president: Junior doctors transfer will be “disruptive”
BDU President Dr. Melisande Bassett (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) President Dr Melisande Bassett yesterday criticized the government’s plan to transfer several doctors who did not receive Public Hospital Authority (PHA) contracts, throughout several islands, calling the move “disruptive”.

Junior doctors and the PHA have been locked in negotiations over the employment status and placement of some 20 doctors.

Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands has repeatedly underscored the limited number of available posts at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

Yesterday, he confirmed doctors will not be terminated, but transferred to others posts in the public health system.

“I would have just met with those who were not given contract at the PHA and they will be given contracts to work in the department of public health,” Sands told reporters outside Cabinet.

“No Senior House Operator (SHO) or recently completed internship, none of them have bene terminated. “

However, in an interview with Eyewitness News, Bassett said those doctors were advised on Tuesday morning to report back to work until they are directed to where they will be sent in the near future.

“There doesn’t seem to be any concrete plan as to who goes to the Family Islands, how it affects their families,” she asserted.

“They have not been informed, neither have we.

“In our meeting with the minister we expressed the reservations in such a move because it’s disruptive.

“Their proposal is to move these people out now at the beginning of the year, and then transfer them back in July once they start programs – those who get accepted.”

But, Bassett insisted that this proposal is very disruptive to the healthcare system given that those doctors have been working in the clinics.

“There was no forethought to this,” she continued.

“…You can’t run a clinic if there is no doctor there to see people.

“These are people that service clinics. If you move them, there will be deficits that the public will feel.”

She noted that their approach would be avoid the disruption and make the move a voluntary option.

“Ask for persons that are willing to go to the Department of Health as opposed to forcing people out who serve a vital function or are potentially going to be in programs where they have to be in hospital in any event,” Bassett added.

“It’s disruptive to their lives and professionals shouldn’t have to go through being moved around or shuffled around at whim where there doesn’t seem to be any real concrete direction.”

While those doctors are still unsure when they will be moved, the union president said they were told that it could happen as early as the end of the month.

Several of those professionals have reportedly been functioning as senior house operators without a contract for six months.

In August, junior doctors withdrew their labour over several concerns, including holiday pay owed to them since 2014.

Yesterday, Bassett said they have yet to be informed when doctors will receive their back pay or when some doctors on half-pay will be regularized.


After reading this there remained for me more questions than answers. Firstly, I am in no way knocking the Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) President Dr Melisande Bassett because I am well aware of the fundamental responsibility of a union which is to represent the collective interests of workers. With that being said, lets suppose there was an epidemic on one of our family islands and doctors were needed immediately with limited noticed, would the move to deploy junior doctors still be seen as ¨disruptive¨? I appreciate the point raised when it was stated that ¨You can not run a clinic if there is no doctor there to see people´´, I recall earlier in my career being deployed on the island of Rum Cay, where there was no doctor to see patients (I am not sure if this is still the case now) only nurses would see patients and afterwards call the doctor who would be in San Salvador and explain what symptoms the patient presented and the doctor will give further advice to the nurse over the phone. If this is in fact still the case, it truly needs to be revised. Further, a doctor is someone who maintains or restores human health through the practice of medicine, which is in my opinion inclusive of all citizens within the Bahamas (including our family islands) and not just Nassau.

Your point is noted but the issue is the doctors in question are thee most Junior next to interns and they require more training before being deployed to a family island. Our family islands deserve well trained physicians and not rookies.

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