While tempers reached a boiling point for members of the Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) yesterday, health minister Dr. Duane Sands called on the physicians to allow tension and anger to subside while cautioning then to consider how their demands and actions will ultimately affect the industry moving forward.
“At no time, up until now, have doctors been paid for holidays so this is a new thing,” he said.
“When you look at the standing of physicians in the community; we enjoy a certain level of respect and honor because of the vocational aspect of what we do, the sacrifices made and you cannot monetize what physicians do.”
The health minister says he understands and empathizes with the junior doctors; but said their requests will not only impact the current cohort of young doctors but will impact the industry for years to come.
“I understand and empathize with any group of individuals who seek to improve conditions but keep in mind that the tension that exists doesn’t have to be angry, acrimonious; it out to be a respectful level of tension,” he said.
“The day that you get to the point that a physician is defined by money I think that we have lost a profession.
“I think we have to acknowledge that what may have worked for generation X or generation Y doesn’t necessarily work for the millennials, doesn’t necessarily work for people to come.”
More than 400 junior doctors withdrew services last Wednesday, forcing Princess Margaret Hospital in New Providence, Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and the Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama to suspend non-emergency services.
On Monday the opposition Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) blasted government by stating that the Minnis administration failed the physicians by not adequately preparing its budget to accommodate requests laid out in the BDU’s ongoing negotiations with government.
Dr. Sands, responding to those assertions made by PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper, said “if you listen to the president speak to the length of time that this matter has been on the table, she says that it’s been almost ten years. I believe that the opposition ran government from 2012 to 2017.”
“Certainly, when it came on the radar of this administration we sought to tackle a challenging problem.
“Negotiations have been ongoing for many months and we thought that they were proceeding reasonably well.”
Dr. Sands told media yesterday that the junior physicians are expected to be back to work in a matter of days.