Doctors finally return to work

Princess Margaret Hospital.

CPSA reaches tentative agreement “in principle” with govt.

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS –  Having arrived at a tentative agreement “in principle” with the government and the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA), senior physicians who ceased elective services in the public healthcare sector for the past 10 days will return to work in their full capacity today.

“An official document has not been signed, but many items have been agreed to and, as such, the last details need to be worked out,” said psychiatrist, Dr. John Dillett, who currently serves as Treasurer of the Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA).

“We are close…close enough where we can return to work, but there is still a little bit of work to do.

“The membership is in agreement that we have made enough progress that we should return to work.

“I will not say that we are completely happy, but I think that this group has made some sort of compromise because we want healthcare to continue to improve.

“The government has increased [its] offer on a number of fronts, and the membership is satisfied that it is an agreement that we can all have.”

Dr. Dillett, who was speaking at a press conference held in the library of the Princess Margaret Hospital, said all details of the new industrial agreement should be formalized by the end of next week.

Asked if physicians – for the most part – were satisfied with the new agreement, Dr. Dillett said, “There has been an improvement and we feel that it is enough of an improvement that we can reach this agreement and we can go back to work.”

Physicians withdrew their services last week Tuesday, citing failed negotiations over their salaries with the PHA.

At yesterday’s press conference, Dr. Dillett who spoke on behalf of CPSA president Dr. Locksley Munroe, who is currently off the island, said having reached a tentative agreement in principle with the government and the PHA, and with there being agreement on all major financial matters, the CPSA has asked all members to return to work and cease all industrial action.

Dr. Dillett said because a tentative agreement was only reached “in principle” and there are still a few details that remain, the CPSA was not willing to disclose the full terms of the agreement on Thursday.  

The CPSA treasurer noted, however, that if the government and the PHA is true to  its word [as it relates to agreements made in principle], they would do the same.

“Providing that both parties continue to bargain in good faith, then I do not anticipate any further action,” Dr. Dillett stressed.

The CPSA treasurer thanked junior doctors who filled the void while senior doctors were on strike, and he also thanked Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis for his intervention during the negotiation period.

The prime minister, he said, brought a calm and collective mindset to the negotiations and viewed the physicians as partners in healthcare.

“He used his influence to bring the parties to the table and I believe that allowed us to move negotiations along in a positive, fruitful way,” Dr. Dillett said.

The CPSA treasurer also thanked the association’s members for making the  “painful” sacrifice of withdrawing their services for the past 10 days.

He said the various doctors came together because they all believed that they should be treated fairly.

“Our skills, our performance, ought to be recognized and we are partners in healthcare.

“We will not be dictated to, but we are willing to work with the government of The Bahamas and the [Public] Hospitals Authority to improve healthcare in this country,” Dr. Dillett said.

Moving forward, Dr. Dillett stressed that healthcare in The Bahamas will only improve if all parties are treated with respect, if there is effective communication, and only if stakeholders work together.

The CPSA, he said, is dedicated to improving healthcare in The Bahamas, but he reiterated that they must be treated with respect.

“If you wish to enact policy, you need to discuss it with us. Get our ideas and our support. That is all that we ask as any professional would,” Dr. Dillett said.

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