By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands yesterday said the possibility of doctors withdrawing services is “looking less and less likely” as there continues to be “tremendous progress” in negotiations between the Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) and the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA).
Dr Sands added there has “certainly” been more progress with the CPSA than with the Bahamas Nurses Union, which has also threatened industrial action.
“Certainly we are very pleased with the fact that the CPSA and the Public Hospitals Authority have been at the table and there has been progress,” Dr Sands told The Tribune yesterday.
“The fact that the parties are communicative, the fact that even though sometimes the exchange can be somewhat tense, I believe that we have made tremendous progress.”
On October 5, more than 70 senior doctors voted to obtain a strike certificate, a move which illustrates that union members are willing to withdraw services if the PHA does not meet their requests.
The CPSA is seeking greater financial benefits for its members, but the PHA insists there is not enough money to give it to them.
On November 12, it was reported that senior physicians were considering withdrawing their services over the issue.
Regarding this potential withdrawal, Dr Sands said: “Certainly with the CPSA, that is looking less and less likely. Obviously, they have obtained a strike vote and PHA, and certainly the Ministry of Health takes this very, very seriously.
“That said, given the progress, we would like to continue to build on what is an absolutely critical relationship with the leaders in healthcare.
“The physicians that form the membership of CPSA are ultimately responsible for the delivery of healthcare in our tertiary hospitals. And the role that they play cannot be minimised or underestimated.”
The nurses’ union has also threatened industrial action to oppose a shift change proposed by the PHA.
When asked about negotiations with BNU, Dr Sand said: “Can’t say that we have had the same kind of progress there. And we continue to encourage the dialogue between the (BNU) and the (PHA).
“But, in terms of giving you a real snapshot of the progress, certainly there has been more progress with the (CPSA) than there has been with the (Bahamas) Nurses Union.”
On October 31, BNU President Amancha Williams suggested nurses will not be showing up for their new shifts on December 13 as she maintained there was no legal grounds to penalise non-compliance.
“They can’t penalise nobody if no nurses show up on December 13,” Mrs Williams had said earlier.
“It doesn’t matter if we don’t have (a strike certificate) in hand. I don’t have to work, you can’t cut my pay, you didn’t give me that shift, that wasn’t agreed upon. It was unilaterally done (by PHA) and it should not be done that way.”
The PHA has maintained the new shift system can be imposed because of an agreement signed with BNU by its former president in 2014.
However, the union has said that document was never adopted into the nurses’ industrial agreement with the government.