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Showdown: Consultants Say – Emergencies Only; Nurses To Vote On Strike Dec 4

Princess Margaret Hospital.

Princess Margaret Hospital.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

NEARLY 600 senior and junior doctors, fuelled by frustration, withdrew services yesterday warning that only “life and death” cases will be accommodated until there is resolution over outstanding physician reimbursements and improvements to base salaries.

Anyone reporting to any of the country’s public medical facilities will experience “difficulties” receiving care, the doctors insisted, adding that no elective procedures were to be carried out. Later, the Public Hospitals Authority advised that all electives were cancelled. These included procedures at out-patient specialty clinics inclusive of medical, surgical, dental, ENT (ear, nose and throat), eye clinic and family medicine clinics, which were reduced until further notice.

In a move seen as crippling to healthcare, the Consultant Physicians Staff Association backed by the Bahamas Doctors Union maintained the planned industrial action could range from “work to rule”, which means following working rules and hours exactly as they are required to reduce efficiency – utilising sick days, go slow, taking leave as is desired or even demonstrating in the coming days.

According to CPSA president Dr Locksley Munroe, doctors in the country feel undervalued and believe their issues have continued to linger. It is time, he said, the unresolved matters come to a close.

Dr Munroe added that the duration of this action rests on the shoulders of the PHA.There are 120 senior or consultant doctors and 460 junior ones. “As the general public knows this body - the Consultant Physicians Staff Association - submitted an industrial proposal in January of 2016 and since then we have had interactions with Public Hospitals Authority and administrators,” Dr Munroe said yesterday.

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Dr Locksley Munroe and Dr Melisande Bassett pictured yesterday. Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

“For us it has been rather difficult primarily because industrial action is not something that physicians generally would be engaged with and essentially we had to learn some very, very painful lessons.

“So far that interaction has been progressive at least in a preliminary manner. However following their directives last year, November of 2017, we were advised concerning financial matters and we followed those directives. We submitted our templates on the manner in which physicians should be reimbursed and yet this is one year later and we still have not come to any sort of resolution or conclusion on the matter of physician reimbursement.

“Given the implications of that, that is what triggered this event today (yesterday) that the body as a whole is frustrated and feels that they are not valued in any way by the authorities and therefore in terms of withdrawal of services, that is what the plan of action is as of today just to let the general public know that the physicians are not satisfied with the manner in which their concerns are being dealt with and therefore we are making a statement to the public in particular just to let them know that there is going to be difficulties and also to the administrators that is time for this matter to come to a satisfactory conclusion.”

‘Life or death’

“As of today there are going to be industrial action and the public just needs to understand. We hope that they are going to be on our side,” Mr Munroe said. ‘We are going to continue to ensure that no one’s life is at risk. It has to be a life and death situation, however so, yes, the profession of medicine shall look after you far better than our administrators are looking after the professionals in the medicine.”

Asked what it would take for the PHA to put an end to doctors’ grievances he said: “Essentially they would need to correct our salaries and we are not even asking for what is the true value and worth of the consultants, we’re simply asking that our services be honoured. It is still essentially an honorarium that we are asking for so if they can honour that request and as people speak about demand we’re not making demands we are simply asking that you respect what it is that we do. Once they do that then everything will be sorted out.”

Dr Melisande Bassett, representing the BDU, pointed to the measures taken by the three unions operating under the PHA, which have either taken or sought to take industrial action.

She said this spoke volumes of the level of displeasure among medical personnel.

Dr Bassett said: “Today the presence of myself along with my executive team and other junior doctors is to lend support to the consultant body as well as to bring light to the fact that there are three organisations that work under the PHA that have either gotten approval for strike action or are in the process of seeking it. That in itself, I think, speaks volumes.

“We all face a common obstacle in trying to get the administration to understand that their employees are not indentured servants, but we are partners in healthcare and we can’t be marginalised and ignored just because you don’t understand the services that we provide.

“To give the public an idea of that the junior doctors with the consultant doctors have been in talks to make certain that emergency healthcare is not withdrawn and all emergencies are met.

“We will support our consultants in ensuring that they are duly compensated for the hard work that they do and when we do get our approval for our strike vote they will support us as well because there are many issues that we face that we all share together and we can’t provide the best healthcare to the public if we are disadvantaged, that’s the bottom line and we need the administration to understand this,” Dr Bassett said.

Comments

joeblow 1 year, 10 months ago

You cannot treat providers of essential services (nurses, doctors, police etc) as though their services are optional. The government is at fault for any negative fallout. All professionals deserve a fair wage! They probably spent more on NHI consultations.

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 10 months ago

You presuppose that all doctors are professionals. Some of them are wonderful. Some of them are killing people with misdiagnosis and mistreatment. And I had two doctors tell me that two different specialties about 10 years apart. Some of these doctors literally don't know what they're doing. If babies were dying at the rate of moderately ill adults who wander into the hospital, alarms would be going off. And the strange thing is the doctors know who the bad ones are but no one wants to say anything cuz..well 5 years of med school

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joeblow 1 year, 10 months ago

All professionals deserve a fair wage. It is the fault of the system if checks and balances are not in place to ensure competent employees, be they police , doctors or nurses.

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TalRussell 1 year, 10 months ago

Not saying tis similarity but worthy mentioning how this PM, ain't we first "Doc" look down on working and pay conditions nurses. Haiti's Comrade President Franqois "Papa Doc" Du- valier was not known for well treatment nurses - was also a transplanted doctor born we colony's island of Great Inagua

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bogart 1 year, 10 months ago

AN JUS DA ODDER DAY ONE HEADLINE SAY SOMETING LIKE INDISTRIAL ACTION BY DOCTORS LOOKIN LESS LIKELY........BEY......AN ..AGAIN....CEO..ROC WID DOC...LEAVES DA COUNTRY.....AN LOOK WHAT DEY DOIN WHEN HE GONE....Last time he been Commonwealth meetin....dey tells people like lights gon be off....odder time he been....Conference.....mudda soc dred....!!!!....WHETHER YA LIKES DA MAN.....ROC WID DOC IS DA LEADER OF ....ALL....ALL....ALLL.....BAHAMIANS WHEN HE GOES ....ABROAD REPRESENTIN....DA BAHAMAS...IN DIS CRITICAL MATTER OF CLIMATE CHANGE....respect da Leader....if yinna gats issues ....wait a couple days....yall waited long enuff.....till he gets back....before yall embarassing da country......trying to put the best foot forward.....an get the best deals abroad.....couple days aint gon hurt....!!!!

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DDK 1 year, 10 months ago

Joy to the World! We can all die for Christmas while Minnis looks at himself in the Reflecting Pool!

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 10 months ago

You see him show up again to goosey Dr Sands about going to talk to his colleagues because he's a doctor too? What's Dr Sands?

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 10 months ago

doc and his crew seems to be having a jolly good time. They are employing their friends and paying out money,

Will they blame the PLP for this I am sure they will

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John 1 year, 10 months ago

You would think, (just saying) that since most of the senior physicians engaged by the government also have a private practice that this type of (strike) action will not be necessary. Not only do these doctors have the opportunity to subsidize their income from the government but they can also set the yardstick for the industry. meaning that as government is less likely to meet their demands they would increase their private practice. This would also give junior doctors more opportunity to climb the ranks and if government realizes that it can no longer retain qualified personnel under the current conditions, they will have to improve them. A matter of the system balancing itself and finding its own equilibrium. And even the nurses have a likewise situation. If too many migrate towards private practice, not only will government have to increase salaries, but the private industry may find it can reduce pay grades to be more in line with the public sector. So instead of there being a wide margin between salaries in the private and public sector, it will be mostly a matter of trade-offs

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TigerB 1 year, 10 months ago

Well as labourers we need to be careful, they did raise the VAT to 12% now if they pay for all these raises for nurses, teachers, policeman who knows 15% VAT next? Seem its a cycle, Tax them after they raise them... raise them then tax them... the Gov't never lose...Them old people does always say be careful what you ask for, cause you might get it.

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