Princess Margaret Hospital. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff
By LEANDRA ROLLE
AMID concerns about the unemployment status of some 20 junior doctors at Princess Margaret Hospital, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands yesterday explained that those unconfirmed physicians will not be fired, but transferred to other posts in the public healthcare system.
This, he said, is because jobs at PMH are limited.
“What we’ve said is that there are only 13 posts at Princess Margaret Hospital and if you have 23 persons vying for those posts, then ten people will not get the posts. Those that are confirmed will be paid retroactively until July,” he told The Tribune yesterday.
“The rest will have to be employed elsewhere in the healthcare system. You see I don’t think the public understands that we cannot infinitely expand posts simply because there are people that want jobs. If the need of the healthcare system is 500, then we hire 500 and so if you have more coming in, then some have to go.”
His comments came a day after a representative of junior doctors raised alarm concerning the employment status and future of more than a dozen junior doctors at PMH.
Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) president Dr Melisande Bassett said at least 20 doctors faced an uncertain employment future during this Christmas season.
“These are junior doctors that would have been employed since July operating in the capacity that they are operating now,” she said. “(PHA) refuse to give them a contract, refuse to hire them but kept them lingering on all this time without paying them at the rate they should have been paid.”
BDU officials said that doctors have been functioning as senior house operators without a contract for six months.
But, to this, Dr Sands replied: “Any person who applies to work in the civil service understands that it’s a process. Confirmation can sometimes take an incredibly long time as you know… (doctors) continue to work as acting SHOs and they will continue to act until such time until they’ve been confirmed.”
The health minister has previously said there have been some outstanding challenges in getting medical professionals processed through the public health care system.
In October, he revealed to reporters that he hoped to have the waiting time reduced.
In the meantime, Dr Sands maintains the government is still committed to improving the health care system to better serve the Bahamian people.
“The people of The Bahamas pay and they want and are entitled to good care and this administration is prepared to provide doctors to all the people in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” he said in the House of Assembly yesterday.
“So, in Central Andros, you will now have an opportunity to have a doctor to come to your community,” he said, responding to a concern from South Andros MP Picewell Forbes. “We will provide doctors in Elizabeth Estates, in South Beach, in Flamingo Gardens and so on and so forth.”