As the junior doctors’ strike dragged on, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said on Saturday the current state of the healthcare system is “not sustainable” as nearly 70 percent of the doctors in the country are taking part in the withdrawal of services.
“The current situation is far from ideal and not sustainable,” Sands said.
He added, “…You have 432 physicians in the Bahamas Doctors Union (BDU) and then 130 odd in the consultant physicians grouping.
“Then, that basically works out to almost 70 percent of the doctors in the country, at least in the public sector, that now no longer participate in everyday care for the public.”
Roughly 420 doctors on New Providence and Grand Bahama withdrew their services on Wednesday.
The withdrawal of services came more than eight months after the doctors voted to strike.
The key issue is holiday pay, with the union claiming that the doctors are not being paid for working on holidays.
BDU President Dr. Melisande Bassett declined to comment when reached yesterday, only saying that the union intends to hold a press conference today.
However, on Saturday, following a meeting between the Cabinet and public sector unions, Sands said, “We reiterate that we are willing to discuss whatever impasse there is or seems to be in order to get people back to work, to restore the public’s confidence that [when] they have a need that a doctor is going to be there.”
The ongoing strike has resulted in the availability of only emergency services at public hospitals.
It has also led to a full dependence on senior doctors in public healthcare facilities on New Providence and Grand Bahama.
“If you have a serious medical problem, you’re going to get the care that you need from competent, the best people in the hospital, because you’re talking about consultants now,” Sands said.
“They are physically there assessing patients when they come in.”
On Friday, the junior doctors were expected to meet with Director of Labour John Pinder in an attempt to resolve the issues causing the strike.
However, Bassett said the union was “ambushed” by Ministry of Health officials.
As a result, the meeting did not happen.
The union is expected to meet with Pinder this morning at the Department of Labour.
The strike continues today.