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PHA axes 30 junior doctors and interns during COVID-19

The Public Hospital’s Authority has made the baffling decision to sever ties with just over 30 health professionals as of today, July 1st. This comes as the country gets set to reopen borders to international visitors, with five of the first six scheduled flights coming from the neighbouring US where COVID-19 numbers are soaring.

The Bahamas Doctor’s Union is understandably taking issue with the PHA’s decision, which will make some doctors’ positions redundant and not renew contracts. It affects just over 30 interns and junior doctors.

A statement from the Union notes that despite the challenges and uncertainties of COVID-19, healthcare workers have showed up and delivered unwavering care to Bahamians and residents, bearing the brunt of the work to reduce the impact on The Bahamas.

It continued, “it’s unfortunate, as a frontline worker during this entire COVID-19 pandemic, many of these unsung heroes are left with job and financial insecurities. It questioned, “how is this a just reward?”

In response, and for the purposes of clarity, the PHA issued its own statement advising that the one-year internship period – a requirement for licensure – ended yesterday June 30th.

Still the Union’s statement reads that the health professionals impacted were told their services would no longer be needed. It also explains that the reason given for the PHA’s decision is based on incomplete internship terms for those medical workers.

According to the Union’s statement, “there was an incident of a suspected case of COVID-19 on a ward in the hospital where many medical personnel, inclusive of medical interns, unknowingly were exposed. As a result of this, those persons were sent home to quarantine for a period of 14 days as per mandate from the Ministry of Health. This is now the end of their internship period, June 30th, 2020 and they are being told that their internship is not complete due to the two weeks they were off for mandatory quarantine practices.”

The Union says the interns were told that they should volunteer to work until July 13th, to make up for their quarantine days with no salary guarantee during that time period. It contends that any logical thinking person would consider this time an industrial accident. To add insult to injury, it said further, even after volunteering, future employment cannot be guaranteed.

As interim Minister of Health, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis – a physician himself by trade – has yet to voice his input on the matter.

The Union says the PHA’s actions are a “travesty, and will be indelibly marked on the legacy of this administration as a failure to protect those that gave so much for The Bahamas.”

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