By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
SENIOR doctors could resume non-emergency services at public hospitals today following a satisfactory meeting with Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday.
Consultant Physicians Staff Association President Dr Locksley Munroe said the CPSA secured Dr Minnis’ commitment to increase their base salary from 48,000 to 60,000 between January and May next year and to provide them with some form of health insurance simultaneously. He said Dr Minnis committed to considering a further salary increase for them in future budget cycles.
He said the CPSA will not end its industrial action until a preliminary agreement is signed, however that is expected to happen today.
The $12,000 base salary increase constitutes the Public Hospitals Authority’s last offer to the CPSA. Doctors previously rejected it. Dr Munroe said accepting it now represents a major compromise for them because they wanted an increase to $75,000.
Had PHA not refused to negotiate with them last week, senior doctors would have accepted the increase then and returned to full service last week, he claimed.
“We went there last week with that same $60,000, but the man (PHA Chairman Julian Rolle) say he ain’ talking to us,” he said. “This could have definitely been finished last week and there would have been no more disruption of services.”
Dr Munroe described Dr Minnis’ tone as more respectful than that of PHA officials. He said Dr Minnis blamed the PHA for the “deficit” in their salary over the years.
He said Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson gave a presentation to them during yesterday’s meeting, warning them of the government’s financial limits.
“Mr Johnson said if we get all the salaries and things we want, we gon’ cause the country go into a downgrade,” he said. “Right now we are willing to compromise. It’s not about as (former Minister of Labour) Shane Gibson would say the ‘greedy doctors,’ but simply you state what your worth and value are, understand the financial situation of the country and you’re willing to compromise. But what the PHA was doing is making it seem like we don’t understand and it seems they think we don’t know what our worth is. I think Dr Minnis understood perfectly and he was honest and upfront when he said right now I shall correct the deficit.”
A sticking point for doctors has been their lack of a pension plan.
“Dr Minnis said that is probably going to be more difficult because of the way they have it set up right now,” Dr Munroe said. “They have a non-contributory plan so he said going forward the plan will have to be one where the employer and employee make a contribution to the fund.”
Labour Minister Dion Foulkes also described the meeting as productive.
He said: “The prime minister wanted me to say that he thought the meeting went extremely well and there are some financial issues that will be addressed tomorrow in a subsequent meeting with the financial secretary.”