By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas Doctors Union yesterday raised alarm about the employment status of interns and junior doctors, claiming that over 30 interns and other junior physicians have received letters saying “that their services will no longer be required” as of today.
Last night, the Public Hospitals Authority responded to the BDU in a brief statement, saying the doctors’ internships had come to an end.
“The PHA wishes to advise that the one-year internship period commenced by the interns on July 1, 2019 ends on June 30, 2020. The one-year internship arrangement is a requirement for licensure,” PHA said. PHA did not say if the doctors will be kept on after this period.
Calling the move heartless and “a travesty”, the union said it was unfortunate and “incomprehensible that the goodwill and sacrifice of so many frontline physicians could be rewarded with such avarice and apathy”.
BDU said despite the challenges faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers never wavered from their commitment to care for patients.
“It’s unfortunate, as a frontline worker during this entire COVID-19 pandemic many of these unsung heroes are left with no job and financial insecurities,” the union said. “The government promised that there will be no job loss as a result of this pandemic. However, the Public Hospitals Authority has indicated to doctors, plans to make some positions redundant and not renew contracts. How is this a just reward?”
In April, some 100 healthcare workers were ordered to self-isolate after they were exposed to a patient with COVID-19 on Princess Margaret Hospital’s surgical ward.
Noting that some of the workers included medical interns, the union said yesterday the trainees were told by officials their internship had not been completed as a result of their forced confinement.
“This is now the end of their internship period, June 30, 2020 and they are being told that their internship is not complete due to the two weeks they were off for mandatory quarantine practices,” BDU added.
“They were told that they should volunteer to work until July 13, 2020 which can be used to make up for their quarantine days with no salary guarantee during that time period—any logical thinking person would have considered this time an industrial accident.”
In view of this, BDU asked of officials: “Where is the compassion? Where is their heart?”
BDU continued: “This is an example of the disconnect that exists between the Public Hospitals Authority and the government. On one hand the government has stated that they will do their best to retain jobs, however PHA has informed over 30 interns and other junior physicians that their services will no longer be required as of July 1, 2020.
“These actions are a travesty and will be indelibly marked on the legacy of this administration as a failure to protect those that gave so much for The Bahamas.”