The Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) yesterday signed an industrial agreement with the Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA).
The agreement takes effect from July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2021, according to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.
Sands said it “represents a comprehensive compensation package that brings our consultant physicians in line with increases experienced across the public service”.
“Key elements of the industrial agreement include a base salary increase, lump-sum payments and an increase in extra hours allowance,” Sands told reporters during the signing.
“The PHA recognizes that fair labor agreements have the potential to create higher wage and benefit standards, working hours and working conditions parameters, workplace hazards protections and other factors.
“Union agreements can also promote employee well-being by encouraging democratic participation and a sense of community among workers at every level. It is important to note that fair agreements don’t just happen, it takes time, patience and goodwill on both sides to achieve; but I believe we are executing such an agreement here today.”
CPSA President Dr. Sabriquet Pinder-Butler expressed frustration with amount of time it took to confirm the agreement.
“Overall, we were satisfied with our engagement with the Public Hospitals Authority, although we would’ve wished for a more expeditious process,” she said.
“Nonetheless, we were able to develop an industrial agreement that was acceptable to all parties and look forward to further improvement during our next negotiations expected to begin next year.”
The association remains committed to ensuring “high quality” healthcare in The Bahamas, according to Pinder-Butler.
However, she said, “In order for this to occur, senior physicians must have a vital role in delivering healthcare while partnering with the PHA and the Ministry of Health in the decision making processes of the healthcare system.”
In November 2018, senior doctors withdrew services at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
The industrial action was the result of a back and forth between the CPSA and PHA over doctors’ concerns with working conditions, a lack of health insurance and unmet demands for a salary increase.
At the time, senior doctors initially requested $250,000 annually as a base salary.
However, CPSA officials had said they were willing to accept $75,000.
Although neither the government nor the association have disclosed the details of the agreement, The Nassau Guardian understands that senior physicians will receive $60,000 as a base salary (up from $48,000) and other benefits once the agreement is formalized.