As the country endured day two of a withdrawal of services by members of the Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) yesterday, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said he would not consider it a crisis but was unsure when normal services at PMH would resume.
“I would not want to suggest for one minute that I am happy with any reduction in the level of care. However, I would not term it a crisis,” Sands said.
Sands said “the public will be inconvenienced” by the withdrawal of services.
However, he suggested that the impact would not be significant as PMH does not handle many elective services.
“The truth of the matter is that most of the care provided by all of those facilities could be termed as emergency care, so somebody has appendicitis, somebody has a miscarriage, somebody has a gunshot wound, a stroke or heart attack, they are emergencies,” Sands said.
“There is very little elective work done in most of our hospitals. Most of it is management of seriously ill patients. That said, there are people who come from the Family Islands for follow up visits or consultations and those people in particular will be seriously inconvenienced.”
Sands said public clinics, such as Fleming Street, should not be affected by the withdrawal of services.
“It ought not be because there are no consultant physicians typically working in most of them or no CPSA members that work in most of them,” he said.
“There are CPSA members that work at Elizabeth Estates and then one or two specialty clinics elsewhere, but for the most part the consultant physicians cover primarily the acute care hospitals.”
Sands said the government was “very carefully” watching the industrial action taken by the senior physicians to ensure that an access to emergency healthcare services is not hindered.
“Both the prime minister and the minister of health are both medical doctors and healthcare delivery is not only something that this entire government is concerned about but we’re particularly concerned about [because it] is something that we’ve done our [entire] lives,” he said.
On Tuesday, there was a shutdown of the majority of services at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) following the withdrawal of services by more than 100 senior physicians throughout The Bahamas.
It is unclear how long the withdrawal of services will last but the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) said it has activated its Emergency Operations Centre.
The PHA said elective surgeries had been cancelled until further notice but emergency cases will be performed and “all dialysis and chemotherapy treatment will continue”.
It also said “all out-patient specialty clinics inclusive of medical, surgical, dental, ENT (ear, nose and throat), eye clinic and family medicine clinics have been cancelled until further notice”.
The CPSA said it will continue industrial action until the PHA resolves the concerns faced by physicians.
On Tuesday, junior physicians and nurses said they were in the process of requesting a strike vote as a result of unresolved issues with the PHA.
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