Shift system ordered for all public healthcare workers

Shift system ordered for all public healthcare workers
Healthcare workers screen for COVID-19 during the first wave in April. (BIS Photos/Kemuel Stubbs)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS All healthcare and ancillary support staff will be placed on a shift system as the government struggles to support current payroll demands and staff shortages due to COVID-19.

The directive for all supervisors to roster staff was contained in a Ministry of Health minute paper sent out to all manager and supervisors yesterday.

It advised that the former policy of volunteerism is an “unwritten, informal position” that was verbalized by former Minster of Health Dr Duane Sands, and has now been revoked.

The minute paper further underscored the current lockdown order, which mandates “all persons employed with the public service who are designated as essential worker by the Permanent Secretary of the respective ministry shall report to their place of work”.

The document pointed to the exponential rise in cases of the virus, noting a “large number” of employees have been exposed and are currently in quarantine.

“Hence, these valuable employees cannot be rostered for the next seven to 21 days,” it read.

“This reduces the number of committed volunteer employees available, and there is a risk of burning out those who are left in place to carry the workload.”

It continued: “The Government is conscious of the concerns and fears of employees in this dispensation and desires to maintain a health public service workforce. Hence, the Government has made every effort to ensure the safety of its employees through training and the provision of personal protective equipment.

“To date, there has been no furloughing, lay-offs, termination, or a reduction or deferring of benefits. So, painting the payroll for a full complement of staff while paying overtime to compensate for staff shortages cannot be sustained.”

It added: “Consequently, all supervisors are hereby required to roster all health care and ancillary support staff on a shift system in support of social distancing to assist in the collective fight and management of the COVID-19 crisis throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”

The minute paper was signed by Acting Permanent Secretary Prenell King-Rolle, and dated August 11.

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