Doctors “quietly” providing care despite withdrawal

Health Minister, Dr. Duane Sands.

Senior physicians continue action for eighth day

 

Although senior physicians have ceased all elective services in the public healthcare system for more than a week over failed salary negotiations with the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA), some doctors have been “quietly going in and taking care of patients”, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.

He commended them on their professionalism and commitment to patients, and said despite tense negotiations the public should also respect the physicians for taking that approach.

Physicians have not received a raise in 10 years.

The PHA offered has offered them $12,000 and another $3,000 to be disbursed as on-call allowances. This would increase physicians’ salaries from $48,000 to $63,000.

The doctors originally proposed a salary of around $200,000, but said they are prepared to accept $75,000.

According to Dr. Sands, the management and board of the PHA, the Ministry of Health and the Cabinet are all “like-minded in bringing a resolution to what has been a difficult time”.

He said an amicable resolution must be reached.

Following a meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on Monday, the association is expected to meet with Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson and personnel from the Ministry of Finance today.

Munroe has said he hopes this meeting will bring about a resolution.

He indicated that senior physicians are prepared to stay the course in absence of something concrete.

This week, Medical Association of The Bahamas President Dr. E. Marcus Cooper said the PHA’s refusal to negotiate with senior physicians represents a gamble of patients’ healthcare.

In response, Sands said amid negotiations the “rhetoric can be strong”.

Insisting that the language used by both sides is intended to strengthen their respective cause, Sands said he wants to avoid a back and forth.

“We are not going to get into a tit for tat,” he said.

“Let us sit down at the table. Let us discuss the issues and within the confines of the reality of the Bahamian public’s ability to sustain a compensation package for any particular group of individuals, let’s see how close we can get to that.”

Last night, nurses overwhelmingly vote to strike, according to unofficial results provided by the Bahamas Nurses Union.

The union has rejected a new shift system imposed by the PHA and said it is tired of being disrespected.

Sands said while the nurses have a democratic right to pursue that course of action, he insisted that all stakeholders are working to bring resolution to the issues of each union.

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