NASSAU, BAHAMAS – While the implementation of a new shift system for nurses has been placed on the back burner for now, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said while the issue is still unresolved, he believes that effective dialogue will move things forward.
Last month, hundreds of nurses, unable to come to an agreement with the Public Hospital Authority on a new shift system, voted in favour of a strike.
That strike certificate was eventually issued by the Department of Labour but it has yet to be used.
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 Bahamas Nurses Union, however, disagreed.
While addressing the media outside the Cabinet office on Tuesday, Sands said he has been in contact with the nurses’ union president to discuss various issues. He noted, however, that the public never benefits from industrial action and the most important stakeholders are the patients.
“As I have said repeatedly, when we get to the point of an impasse that any bereaved party believes that industrial action is the only option or the preferred option, then the public certainly doesn’t benefit,” Sands said.
The health minister said the government has to work aggressively to figure out a way to get beyond the existing standoff between the PHA and the nurses union.
Sands suggested that the nurses’ union should walk away from the table for a bit and approach the situation again.
“In the wealthiest country in the world, the government has shut down. It does not seem able to reach a compromise, so it suggests that this can happen and that sometimes you need to come at it from a different angle,” Sands suggested.
The Health Minister said that as the year progresses, the government intends to be transformational in their approach to certain matters.
“We look at things critically and make a determination as to what are the root causes that need to be addressed and then change them,” Sands said.