Nurses ‘sick out’! PM still optimistic

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Industrial unrest forced hundreds of nurses to skip work on Monday, but Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis is confident that the healthcare professionals – despite their grievances – will return to work today

Dr. Minnis told reporters yesterday that the government is aware of issues within The Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) which prompted the mass sick-out on Monday.

He confirmed that all parties were locked in negotiations in an effort to bring the contentious situation to an end.

“I’ve spoken to my minister,” Dr. Minnis said.

“The scheduling should be placed hold. All parties involved should now meet so that we can come to an amicable resolution. We had a good conversation and I think that the nurses should be back by tomorrow.”

Members of the BNU are up-in-arms over a scheduling conflict and have been at odds with the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) for months now concerning a number of issues.

Health minister Dr. Duane Sands told Eyewitness News Monday, “I spoke with the BNU president and reassured them that my office and all agencies of the Ministry of Health were open to achieve a resolution.”

“We have been trying to resolve ever single matter brought to the attention of this administration since we took office.”

Dr. Sands confirmed that since taking office, the government has offered confirmation to all nurses that were previously on a ‘non-confirmed,’ status.

He also shared that the government has worked to settle all outstanding payments to nurses as well.

“The mileage outstanding – we have taken all the necessary steps to ensure that the accounting has been done. Instructions have been given to the treasury and it’s just a matter of when those monies will show up on the accounts,” Dr. Sands shared.

“Outstanding lump-sums have also been dealt with. So, as far as we are concerned there were no outstanding issues that haven’t been dealt with or not actively being dealt with.”

Monday’s sick-out crippled the healthcare system, but the industrial action is not something that the government can penalize the nurses for.

“The labor laws and the union industrial agreement allows for illness and so this has been a tactic utilized by unions for many years. Who is to say that they aren’t sick if they are not required to present a doctor’s slip?” the health minister questioned.

The prime minister said while the government works to resolve all matters of contention within the healthcare system, he admitted that it will not be a ‘quick fix.’

“Unfortunately, we cannot resolve everything overnight, but the healthcare system is very vital and we will commence moving toward a resolution immediately,” Dr. Minnis confirmed.