Sands says it is unfortunate emotions of Bahamian people “played upon”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Contrary to claims from the Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU), the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) yesterday denied it has issued letters to any junior doctor about their employment and stressed there are no plans to terminate them.
On Tuesday, BDU President Dr. Melisande Bassett told Eyewitness News Online that after months of writing to the PHA concerning the status of 20 junior doctors being made permanent, the union learned the authority planned to disengage them and would the finalize the decision on December 23 — days before Christmas.
She said this was the typical modus operandi of the PHA and the government, insisting the doctors, and people of The Bahamas “deserve better”.
However, the PHA said in a statement it was, in collaboration with the Department of Public Health (DPH), in the process of undertaking a matching program where eligible junior doctors are being sought to transition to senior house officers for appointments in New Providence and Grand Bahama public health facilities.
“This joint exercise between the PHA and DPH is being actioned to ensure equity throughout the deployment exercise,” the PHA said.
“Doctors, whether serving under the PHA or DPH will experience the same level of benefits, commensurate with the respective positions held.
“Further details around the joint matching program, the application process as well as timelines for the interview sessions will be publicized in due course.”
The PHA said it believe the approach will result in a decrease demand for expatriate physicians, as the influx of new Bahamian doctors will continue to reduce the need for foreign staff.
The authority said junior doctors whose services have been engaged since July without a formalized letter of appointment, but who have been operation in the capacity of senior house officers will need to be officially regularized ahead of their appointed to SHO’s.
“The PHA recognizes their efforts during this interim period and is in the process of making necessary provisions to remunerate them for their service during their action period,” the PHA said.
“Performance remains tantamount across the PHA in determining a clear career path for all its employees, inclusive of junior doctors and senior house officers.
“In this regard, the PHA commits to the implementation of all necessary measures to ensure that accountable engagement is rendered. In short, the PHA expects that all staff in its employ provide value to the authority commensurate with their compensation.”
Outside the Churchill Building, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said it was very unfortunate when the emotions of the Bahamian public is played upon.
He said he was blindsided by the Bassett’s claims.
He said significant taxpayers’ dollars go toward the scholarships of medical students to attend medical school and in turn those graduates take up posts at Princess Margaret Hospital as interns before applying to become senior house officers.
Over the years, though PMH has taken on more and more graduates and SHO’s, while the hospital is accredited for around 25 interns.
The hospital has 14 SHO position available, but 23 medical graduates from last year vying for those posts who have to compete for the available positions. He said those who do not get a post will be deployed to clinics in Ann’s Town, Fleming Street and South Beach.
“Nobody is going to be terminated, but not everyone is going to work at Princess Margaret Hospital,” he said.
On Tuesday, Bassett said the treatment of the junior doctors reflects poorly on the government, which she said has continued to “ruin this country and drive young minds out of it”. She said she has begun to fast and pray that “God will move these people.