Nurses anger over recruits’ new rota

Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams. Photo: Terrel W. Carey Sr/Tribune Staff


Tribune Senior Reporter


THE Bahamas Nurses Union could be gearing up for another fight with the Public Hospitals Authority after more than 100 nurses were allegedly put on a shift system that the union has consistently opposed, according to BNU president Amancha Williams.

She said the union will take legal action against the government.

The nurses and the PHA have been battling the shift issue for more than two years.

Ms Williams said between 100 to 200 new nurses recently received letters indicating they will work five eight hour shifts per week. The shift for established nurses is four on/four off.

“They did this throughout all of the PHA so they had a plan,” Ms Williams said. “They’re going against the industrial agreement.”

Some nurses in Grand Bahama reportedly called in sick to protest the shift condition.

Ms Williams said: “You think this government could afford to shut down any hospital or clinic? So why do you want to put a shift change in the middle of COVID? They are taking advantage of us. When you (are) supposed to be compensating us, you beating us. We are still getting bullied by this administration. You should have the best interest of the people at heart right now but they are still not offering the nurses anything.”

Asked what nurses will do about the matter, Ms Williams said: “Anything is liable to happen. We got to do what we got to do. We’re definitely going to sue them. They’re not practising goodwill.”

When contacted yesterday, a PHA representative said a press statement about the matter will be released today.

Some nurses now want to take drastic action during the pandemic in protest of the government’s action.

In a voice note shared with The Tribune, one nurse said: “The government is using this pandemic to push their own agenda and force nurses into complying with a shift change and other things that they could not get otherwise. I honestly believe, this is my personal opinion, I honestly believe the time for talking is finished and it’s time for us to take action because this government is not playing by the rules and the only thing they’re going to understand is when all nurses, not just one island here, or one institution there, all islands shut down right in the midst of this pandemic and let them know that we mean business.

“They’re not going by any agreement, they’re not abiding by the rules and regulations based on the rule that governs how things are supposed to be done…I think it’s time we shut down the entire health system. I know it’s a pandemic, I’m sorry that people are getting sick, I’m sorry that people are dying but the government is not playing fair,” the nurse claimed.

In 2018, former BNU president Jannah Khalfani suggested to The Tribune that with regard to the shift issue, union representatives outwitted top PHA officials during negotiations for the 2014 industrial agreement. She said PHA officials were ignorant of the proper procedure for changing the terms and conditions of the nurses’ employment.

Whether the agreement is enforceable had been at the heart of a dispute between PHA and BNU in 2018, with health officials insisting at the time it empowered the authority to implement a shift change because both sides signed the document.


Clamshell 3 years, 6 months ago

I’m not a nurse and not affiliated with the clinics or hospitals, so maybe I’m misunderstanding this and maybe somebody can help me out here.

OK ... if nurses work shifts of 4-on/4-off, it means that over time they are working half the days. That means in a span of 100 days, a nurse would work 50 days. A person in a different field normally works 5 days a week. That means in a span of 100 days, that person would work 71 days. (50% vs. 71%)

I know nursing is demanding and all, but so are a lot of other jobs. So why should nurses work 20% fewer days than the rest of us? Just curious ...


trueBahamian 3 years, 6 months ago

In the statement, she didn't state the hiurs.worked on the street days. We're assuming 8 hours a day. If we look at the healthcare system, their salaries are low. That's why a lot of them take offers to work in the US in a heartbeat. Some professions you want people at their top form. If you're a banker or a lawyer or an accountant who at some point makes a mistake, the probability of someone dying at that instant is zero. If you're a healthcare personnel, like a doctor or nurse there is a high probability that an error can kill someone. So, given those odds, I wouldn't debate the system. Also, keep in mind the PHA has done a great job in screening over healthcare professionals. You may recall the nurses protesting years ago, if I recall correct, for health insurance. If that's accurate think about how crazy that is for someone to be exposed potentially to every disease known to mankind in their day to day performance of their job and not have healthcare coverage or inadequate healthcare coverage. This little country is a tough place to work in.


xtreme2x 3 years, 6 months ago

that is the union plan is to work SMART not HARD.


Sickened 3 years, 6 months ago

Don't nurses in other countries work 8 hour shifts - if not longer?

I would think you would get more productivity out of a nurse if they worked 8 hour shifts, as there would be significantly less handovers and therefore less errors and omissions.


ohdrap4 3 years, 6 months ago

It is just that they want these shifts to acommodate their moonlighting work.

If they work 9-5, they can take on night work in private.

Not if they work 12-8, let's say.

They prevailed against Dr. Sands.


La47satx 3 years, 6 months ago

Yes I agree, frustrating for nurses trying their best to help with all this covid-19.


hrysippus 3 years, 6 months ago

my cents worth. I have worked in the nursing profession in a junior capacity many years ago. Nurses can be the most wonderful caring people in the world. In most countries the profession is underpaid. he National Health Service in the UK has determined a year or so ago that 5 shifts of 8 hours per shift resulted in better patient care than 4 shifts of 10 hours per shift. Less medical mistakes were made. The PHA is right on this one, the Union Leader is wrong. Political ambitions at work perhaps?


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