Dec. 10 implementation for new shift system deferred
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Just one day after nurses throughout The Bahamas voted in favour of a strike, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) on Wednesday did not respond to the pending move, but refuted statements by the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) which specified that “other disputes” apart from the proposed implementation of the new standardized shift were outstanding.
“In September this year, the PHA announced that all outstanding matters with the BNU had been resolved, and that the only outstanding issue was the implementation of a standardized shift system for nurses, which would bring them in line with the current system in place for all allied health staff,” outlined a statement released last night from the PHA.
Meanwhile, the PHA said the previously announced December 10, 2018 implementation date for the new shift system has been deferred.
Earlier this week, hundreds of nurses, unable to come to an agreement with the PHA on a new shift system, voted in favour of a strike.
A total of 570 nurses in New Providence, Grand Bahama and Exuma voted in favour of striking and three voted “no”.
A strike certificate is expected to be issued by the Ministry of Labour as early as today.
On Wednesday, the PHA maintained that the implementation of the new shift system would improve the delivery of healthcare to patients and ensure better patient outcomes through better nursing coverage and reductions in nurse-related accidents and errors.
The PHA said the new shift system would eliminate inequities caused by the ‘four nights on/four nights off’ system which resulted in night duty nurses working 157 days per year on average, compared to 234 days per year on average for nurses assigned to day shifts.
The new shift system, the PHA said, would also establish a standardized five-day, 40-hour work week with 8-hour daily shifts.
“It will provide compensation for nurses scheduled to work between the hours of 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. by way of a night duty premium of $1.75 per hour, which would be paid in addition to their standard hourly pay,” the PHA said.
According to the PHA, the proposed changes to the work schedules of nursing staff is a testament to their ongoing commitment to ensure that its human resources policies are consistent with ratified labour agreements and regional and international standards of practice.
The PHA said it remains committed to improving the delivery of healthcare to patients by ensuring better patient outcomes, and welcomes further discussions with the BNU regarding any additional improvements that can be made to enhance patient care and coverage.
Tuesday’s strike vote marked the second held by nurses. The first was held back in June 7, and during this time, 377 nurses voted yes and seven voted no. The Ministry of Labour, however, declared the June 7 strike vote null and void as ballots had not been delivered to Inagua, Mayaguana and San Salvador.