Minister of Health Dr Duane Sands.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands said all doctors, including interns and those on contract, will receive a $1,400 lump sum payment as promised to workers in the public service.
Junior doctors became concerned after the Public Hospitals Authority, in a letter signed by PHA Deputy Managing Director Lyrone Burrows, said only junior doctors identified as permanent and pensionable would be eligible for the payment. The Bahamas Doctors Union said doctors have not been made permanent and pensionable since 2008, therefore only a quarter would be eligible for the payment under this scenario.
Dr Sands said the letter was an instance of misinterpretation and miscommunication by the PHA.
“The letter has been rescinded,” he said. “I have given assurances that all will get their money and the BDU received an apology for the miscommunication. There was never any intention to not pay them but there was an error in interpretation that led to the letter being put out and it has since been clarified and a new letter will be issued.”
Mr Burrows’ letter indicated there was a delay in confirmation of the lump sum payment.
Dr Sands explained: “When money first came from (Ministry of) Finance, doctors and nurses were not included. The prime minister explicitly said doctors and nurses will get $1,400 but the payroll went out and it didn’t include that for them so on (Wednesday) we would’ve made a correction so I was shocked when I saw the letter circulating because we had spent hours (on Wednesday) rectifying the matter.”
The relationship between junior doctors and the PHA has been difficult this year.
In August, doctors went on strike because of holiday pay owed to them over the past decade but returned to work when the government secured an injunction against their action.
More recently, the BDU raised concerns about the job future of more than a dozen doctors who have acted as senior house operators but were not promoted to the substantive roles. Dr Sands has since assured them that no doctor will be fired.
A statement from the Cabinet Office yesterday said: “Lump sum payments will be paid as scheduled in December to all public servants, PHA staff, doctors, nurses, teachers, members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Bahamas customs, immigration and correctional officers.”