An overwhelming majority of physicians who participated in a strike vote yesterday opted to withdraw their labor, according to preliminary results provided by Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) President Dr. Locksley Munroe.
Of the 110 members of the association, 78 voted, according to Munroe.
He claimed 75 of those members voted to strike, while three voted against the measure, giving the association the green light to take industrial action once the Department of Labour authenticates the strike vote and issues a strike certificate.
The association expects the department to issue a strike certificate by Wednesday.
Their concerns range from a lack of health insurance, the lack of a raise in a decade and persistent challenges with the healthcare system, which Munroe has called “broken”.
When asked how soon the doctors could withdraw their labor, Munroe said there is a very simple way for the government to avoid a strike.
“That is, by saying, ‘We understand what you doctors are talking about, we are going to work with you and we are going to resolve the issues rather than talking about a strike’,” he said.
“It is very, very simple to say, ‘Okay, here are your issues and here is how we are going to prioritize them’.
“This whole business about striking isn’t necessary or threatening to strike isn’t necessary.
“Threats are not good things. Disrespect is not a good thing either.
“So, if we can level that playing field and meet halfway across the table, I think all things will settle down.”
But he said that has not happened to date and the association will not be bullied.
Pressed on matter, Munroe said there could be movement within 14 days of the association receiving its strike vote.
He insisted that decision does not rest with him alone.
“We are going to see where this whole thing goes in the next week or two – in the next 14 days, I would say – and then that decision would be made,” Munroe said.
The association met with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis this week, but Munroe suggested nothing has been said to date to dissuade the association from its course of action.
Asked about those talks with the prime minister, Munroe said, “Well, his approach was that he would back us with what we are doing and he would speak with the minister of health as well as the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) board.
“However, he also pointed out to us that there are challenges the government faces and the manner [in which] we would deal with the subject is we would prioritize it, and we will view it from the point of view of priorities.
“So, once we have prioritized our position, then he is willing to back whatever we consider to be the priority issue that we are facing. That is the message that he gave.”
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said concerns being raised by the CPSA are “valid”.
He said he is committed to addressing the concerns, which would be dealt with, with the full-weight of the Office of the Prime Minister.