Responding to the Bahamas Nurses Union’s (BNU) complaints regarding nurses’ shifts during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) said it has the authority to ensure there is sufficient staffing in all public health facilities.
In a press release, the PHA cited the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) Orders as well as its industrial agreement with the BNU.
“The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) has engaged with the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) on the issue of nurses’ shifts,” it said.
It added, “The orders granted the government the legal authority to protect public health and safety in order to minimize loss of life as a result of COVID-19. The PHA noted that during this period of declared emergency, the Ministry of Health and the Public Hospitals Authority will exercise its authority to ensure the requisite staffing in all public health facilities.
“The PHA, pursuant to Article 3.01 (1) and (4) of the industrial agreement between the PHA and BNU, exercises its right to rotate and assign nurses as needed to provide all necessary medical care.”
Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson said members of the health unions, the Bahamas Nurses Union, Bahamas Doctors Union and Consultant Physicians Staff Association, due to concerns over the lack of personal protective equipment among other issues.
Ferguson also claimed that some healthcare workers are being “forced” to work “unfair” schedules.
However, the PHA said the national response to COVID-19 requires flexibility from healthcare workers.
“While the PHA recognizes the Industrial Agreement with the BNU, our efforts to fight the current COVID-19 pandemic require a high degree of flexibility from all staff,” it said.
“Upon the withdrawal of Emergency Orders by the government, nursing shifts will return to the pre-pandemic schedule.”