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Bahamas: We Can’t Offer You Any More Money to Nurses

HEALTH Minister Dr Duane Sands said officials expect healthcare services to be negatively impacted this week if the Bahamas Nurses Union continues to protest, adding some elective procedures could be postponed or cancelled.

Calling the situation “unfortunate,” the Elizabeth MP said the Public Hospitals Authority’s recent offers to the disgruntled BNU reflect the best the nation could offer, arguing the public purse is in no position to bear any additional compensation.

Dr Sands said while a resolution could be possible if both sides remained open to communicating, he is preparing for an extended crisis – terming it the worst possible outcome.

He said officials with the PHA and the Ministry of Health have received reliable information that BNU intends to push its demonstration late into the week, and as a result, public health services will be affected across the country.

However, Dr Sands said plans are in place to best avoid any drawbacks that could arise as the action progresses in the coming days.

He added that while he supports the right for the union to agitate for workers’ rights and wages, he takes issue with any action that could adversely affect Bahamians seeking medical attention.

“We believe that this is likely to significantly interfere with the delivery of healthcare services,” Dr Sands said at a press conference at Ministry of Health. “We find it to be unfortunate. We have encouraged dialogue. We are open for dialogue. And in the event of an impasse, we are certainly open to proceeding to arbitration.”

Yesterday morning, nurses demonstrated outside Princess Margaret Hospital’s Critical Care Block in anger over PHA’s move to implement a new shift system. The union said nurses will take their one-hour lunch break at staggered times – they normally only take a 15-minute break – until their concerns are favourably addressed.

Dr Sands said he was of the view that BNU moved too hastily in its decision to hold a demonstration yesterday.

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