Categorized | National News

Nurses’ Chronic Issues Remain

With nurses returning to work yesterday following a sick out across the country on Monday, Health Minister, Dr. Duane Sands said that using such methods as tools for addressing issues  is something that needs to be addressed. 

“Yes, it is so that people get sick. It is also true that numbers of people can get sick, but it would be very peculiar for 200 people to get sick in the absence of some public health issue. 

“And so, when we look at these tools as we evolve as a country, the question will have to asked whether that loop hole ought to be closed,” Dr. Sands said.

Dr. Sands, while speaking with reporters before Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, confirmed that all but five of the nurses had returned to work. 

“The fact that it appeared as if the nurses are back to work, is a wonderful thing. I will sit down at the table again and we will continue the negotiations and the discussions. 

“There is an obligatory tension that while the union may want a particular benefit for its membership, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the people of The Bahamas or the government of The Bahamas has to capitulate to every single demand. 

“We understand the demands can be reasonable, but demands can be unreasonable or the time line is not appropriate,” Dr. Sands said.  

As to chronic issues and grievances that plague that arm of the public health sector, Dr. Sands said that they are actively working on those issues.

“We have been actively involved in dealing with the chronic issues plaguing the nurses.

“The issue of mileage allowance would have been brought up. We employed the help of the Director of Labour, we would have seen to it that some $55,000 of outstanding mileage accrual for a group of nurses was placed on the pay sheet and the expectation was is that they should have had that money in their accounts last pay day. 

“We now need to confirm whether those instructions  from the Ministry of Health  were carried out by the Ministry of  Finance and Treasury. But certainly, if it was not on the pay sheet in April, I am advised that it will definitely be on the pay sheet in May.

“In terms of the confirmation of nurses three years, five years, ten years, we have moved aggressively to deal with these issues that have been outstanding for decades. 

“The matter of the four on four off, the Public Hospitals Authority had not implemented the change in shift system and so to disadvantage the public on the basis of a conversation to me is unfortunate,” Dr. Sands said.

Dr. Sands commended nurses who augmented the sick out, stating that some areas were impacted as a result of Monday’s sick out. 

“The senior nurses and the expatriate nurses and the graduate nurses stepped up and I want to say a collective thank you to them. 

“While some services were interrupted and a number of people were inconvenienced, certainly we were able to provide essential services, [but] we recognize that its only so long that you can continue that,  Dr. Sands said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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