Two weeks after senior doctors ended their industrial action, the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) announced yesterday it has successfully concluded its negotiations with the Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA).
“The PHA is pleased to join with the Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA) to announce that both parties have agreed in principle to all aspects of the proposed industrial agreement,” the PHA said in a statement.
“The process to complete negotiations with respect to the agreement was completed on Friday, December 14th. All parties are satisfied that the agreement reflects the best interests of healthcare delivery and the Bahamian people.
“The industrial agreement covers the more than 130 consultant physicians engaged by the PHA who practice within the public hospitals and select clinics managed by the Department of Public Health. The agreement will be retroactive from July 1, 2016 until June 30, 2021 once approved formally by the PHA board.”
The union and the PHA have been back and forth in negotiations for several weeks regarding the CPSA’s concerns with working conditions, a lack of health insurance and unmet demands for a salary increase.
The failed negotiations resulted in a withdrawal of services, which ultimately led to cancelation of many services at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).
The industrial action ended on December 5 after the CPSA reached an agreement with the government.
While the CPSA said it has not yet signed a formal agreement with the PHA, CPSA President Dr. Locksley Munroe said yesterday senior doctors were pleased with the outcome of negotiations with the PHA.
“The industrial proposal that we have worked through with the PHA seeks to ensure that this standard of care is not only sustainable, but that it continues to improve in the future,” Munroe said.
“The proposal addresses some 200 clauses which, by and large, we were able to agree to with the PHA rather smoothly. We have also now agreed to the financial clauses that were a point of contention.
“However, we appreciate the economic climate of our country at this time and note that this was by no means the main objective of our industrial agreement. We expect that this agreement will allow senior physicians to have a more vital role in delivering healthcare [and] partnering with the PHA in the decision-making processes of our healthcare system.”
Senior doctors initially requested $250,000 annually as a base salary.
But last month Munroe said they were willing to accept $75,000.
While the CPSA declined to disclose the details of the agreement, The 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.
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday he was pleased to see a resolution of the CPSA’s issues.
He said industrial action in the healthcare system has a negative impact on the public’s confidence in the system
“So to have them resolved is always a step in the right direction,” Sands said.
He added: “It’s a very important first step. We have to transform what happens to health.”