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Wells: we’re not trying to overwork healthcare staff

Minister of Health Renward Wells.

Minister of Health Renward Wells.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

HEALTH Minister Renward Wells said the Public Hospitals Authority’s controversial shift system is designed to get the maximum amount of work from healthcare workers without overworking them.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, the minister insisted that officials are doing their best given the ongoing health crisis as a result of COVID-19.

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

Bahamas Nurses Union President Amancha Williams has told The Tribune that the union intends to take legal action against the government after more than 100 new nurses were allegedly put on a shift system that the union has consistently opposed.

“I have spoken to the union president. The prime minister and I have met with the union on a number of occasions since I have become minister,” Mr Wells said when asked about the shift change and the BNU’s concerns yesterday.

“We have in the Ministry of Health sought to properly deploy our personnel assets inside the Ministry of Health in PHA, at PMH, at the Rand in Grand Bahama, at South Beach, at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.

“We have sought to be able to seek to get the maximum amount of work without trying to overwork our medical personnel.”

He continued: “There (are) issues in that the nurses’ union president claims that it’s a breach of the industrial agreement. We are looking at it and I told her that we’ll be getting back to her on those issues.

“But we’re just seeking to do the very best we can inside the health sector, in the health space to be able to be able to deliver for and on behalf of the Bahamian people what we know needs to be delivered in regards to healthcare.

“As you know the cases in (the) country have been rising and we’re seeking to deal with it as best as we can.”

On Monday, 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 on Monday: “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.”

PHA officials had promised a statement on the matter but one was not issued up to press time.

Comments

DDK 3 years, 6 months ago

All these union mouthpieces that are aiding and abetting the destruction of our country, while lining their pockets with good portions of the income of the members they claim to serve, are no better that the numbers bosses and corrupt politicians and should give it a break, a permanent one.

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