WHEN COVID-19 first came to our shores, there was a familiar line in the regular press conferences at the time.
Routinely, and rightly, our medical workforce was thanked for the efforts they were putting in.
It’s not just here that doctors, nurses and all the hospital staff members have been thanked – in different places around the world, there were regular rounds of applause where people would come to their doorstep and clap for those who were risking their health to protect ours.
More than that, we were told that we needed to take the safety measures of wearing masks, keeping our distance, washing our hands and staying in our homes in order to help healthcare workers.
Special shopping days were set aside for essential workers, and we were encouraged to do all we can to make life easier for those in the medicine field to make the preparations for an outbreak and keep cases down to ensure they didn’t fall prey to COVID-19 too.
So it is galling to hear that nurses asking the government for what they are due in their pay packets.
Now the nursing union leader has told Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis he has until December 31 to pay up – and suggested the government could be sued if it doesn’t.
There is of course another side of the story to hear, but so many medical workers have risked so much to protect us that there really should be no dispute about financial recompense. We have a National Heroes Day in The Bahamas, and every single health worker on the frontline deserves to be honoured on that day. Three nurses died from COVID-19, paying the highest price of all.
So if health workers were promised money as a thank you for the hard work they put in, they shouldn’t have to fight for it. After all, they’re still fighting on the frontline against COVID-19 – this is no time for them to have to battle for their pay too.
Let’s make sure that when we honour healthcare workers, it’s not just hollow words. Let’s live up to any promises we have made too.
We would, however, add one note of criticism to our praise. The head of the nurses union has also ventured into recommendations on the use of the COVID-19 vaccine, suggesting that we “give it a year” to see how it works out in the rest of the world before we use it here.
Amancha Williams doesn’t give any medical assessment on why we should wait – and the US and the UK have already started vaccinations after vetting by authorities there. We’re not sure why Nurse Williams thinks she knows better than the FDA or the health authorities in the UK but one thing we are sure of – the financial cost to The Bahamas of waiting another year for no good reason would more than wipe out any extra pay in nurses’ pockets.