By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands yesterday denied junior doctors are having their contracts cut from three years to one year, instead maintaining this is occurring only in “isolated incidents”.
He added that he intends to speak to the president of the Bahamas Doctors Union on this matter.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the “World No Tobacco Day 2019” press conference Friday, Dr Sands also addressed the walkout staged on Thursday by the Princess Margaret Hospital kitchen staff.
The health minister noted that the dispute was over a malfunctioning air-conditioner. He said engineering assistance has been sought to solve the matter.
The BDU, which represents junior doctors, held a press conference Wednesday regarding one-year contracts being issued to junior doctors.
BDU President Dr Melisande Bassett maintained the issuing of one-year contracts goes against the union’s industrial agreement and noted the union is eying a strike poll.
When asked about this matter, Dr Sands told reporters: “That’s not so. There are isolated incidents where individuals may have an extension for one year or two years. There are some individuals that are kept on month to month, depending on the specific circumstances.
“And so, we have met. Certainly we have discussed this situation and there are certainly occasions when it is impossible or not appropriate to extend or to renew a contract for more than a particular time.”
Regarding the threat of industrial action, Dr Sands replied: “That’s unfortunate. And we have met here at the ministry on this matter.
“As you know, I’ve been away for the World Health Assembly and so I intend to speak to the president of the union. The number of people who are affected by this certainly is very low, very few.”
On Thursday, a number of PMH kitchen staff walked off the job due to extreme heat caused by the kitchen’s exhaust system failing.
Dr Sands underscored he did not arrive back in the country until Thursday evening, but said engineering support has been requested.
“I just got back in town yesterday evening so the specifics of what happened…I am informed that this was on the basis of a malfunctioning air conditioner,” he said. “And if that is the case, I think manmade devices can malfunction at any time. The question is, what did you know, when did you know it, and what did you do?
“So as soon as we would have gotten wind of it, we would have requested the appropriate engineering support in order to get it corrected.”