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This week's editorial comes from September 10th's Tribune Newspaper, printed with permission
IT should come as no surprise that many Bahamians find the PLP's criticism of public healthcare somewhat disingenuous given their record of unconscionable neglect of the country's health institutions. It also causes the public to wonder, in view of their record, what all their fuss is now about as they claim contracts are being awarded to party faithful at BEC/BPL.
That said, it would be interesting if the former administration would explain how it spent $234m in the run-up to the last election, yet their board failed to repair the considerable damage suffered by the Princess Margaret Hospital and wards from Hurricane Matthew in 2015.
While recognising the right of any individual or entity to avail themselves of whatever course of action to which they might feel entitled, we cannot understand how the head of the Consultants' Union, a physician of such pre-eminence, could in good conscience, make demands or expect salary raises knowing that the hospital has no surplus funds to satisfy any demands at this time. Need he be reminded that all the cookies have disappeared from the cookie jar?
The frustrations and complaints of the consultants, doctors, and nurses and the appalling conditions under which members of the PHA team have had to work are justified. No one can doubt or question that.
However, nothing fruitful can result from the head of the Consultants' Union proclaiming such a self-destructive "Strike" ultimatum at the very time that members of the PHA are delivering private donations of computers/printers to his members; apologising to the radiology team for such unconscionable neglect and inviting private entities to assist the CDU team with fast-track renovations for both the Radiology Department and the old ICU section. Where does the Consultants' Union suggest that we now find enough funds to raise salaries and provide health insurance for them at this time?
The current chairman, board and PHA team, who have paid off mountains of debts, repaired ambulances for which the vendor had cut the PHA off for non-payment; undertaken repairs to the PMH roof and Corey-Newbold Ward; renovated the Labour Ward; approved software updates; finished renovations and installation of two brand new digital X-rays, CT scanner (PMH & Rand) PAX system in the Radiology Department before moving on to renovate the outdated A&E Department, children's wards and laundry. It is most unfortunate that the doctors' complaint for attention should come at this time.
The Consultants' Union's silence in response to the Central Bank stating that the former PLP administration spent some $234m in the run-up to the election, instead of putting the money into repairing the Princess Margaret Hospital - was absolutely deafening! And to make matters worse, the consultants were fully aware that the PMH had not issued a single patient's bill, A&E charge sheet or obtained reimbursement from any health providers relative to its share of hundreds of millions in charges providing clinical care, hospital fees, radiological services, medicines, EMS and Air Ambulance flights for applicable Bahamians and thousands of tourists since 2012 - six years without any bills being sent out or monies collected. What a brilliant way to operate a business.
No money coming in, yet hands out for a raise in salaries. Are there no managers with business skills anywhere in that institution?
We have no recollection of Dr Munroe's response when Parliament was informed during the Budget contribution in 2017 that the former administration approved monthly cleaning contracts for mini-hospitals in Exuma and Abaco - which were yet to be opened - to the tune of $424,638.84 and $500,000.
We think that this is what the Consultants' Union should not only be "shouting about"; but assisting the PHA team in doing something about. Wouldn't it be far more beneficial for them to focus their combined efforts on patient care and regularising the efforts of team members before turning their attention to the merits of introducing physicians fees for applicable patients in a mutually agreed upon formula?
Bahamians want opportunities for all. They are tired of the "all for me baby" attitude. They want affordable, first-rate healthcare, not lives cut short before they've had a chance to start. They want action, not promises. They want answers and accountability; not being told they don't have a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent. They want jobs, not unemployment. Bahamians today love the colour green. Just to be clear, they're not talking about the DNA. They are talking about green for the environment, green for the dollar and the green light for everyone to start moving.
If we wish our country to move together - to take advantage of its unique opportunities - then it is high time our politicians, unions and others stop the deception and personal agendas that are being magnified while failing to address many of the pressing issues facing this country. Instead, Bahamians should stand as a unifying force in our nation to transform our nation's delivery of health care.
Public service is a gift of one's self to one's country. Public servants should always remember that they are employed by those who they represent for the benefit of every individual in the Bahamas; not for their own personal objectives. Blindly making statements without verifying the accuracy would be like jumping off the bridge without looking below. "While that would be a misfortune," Britain's prime minister Benjamin Disraeli once commented, let's hope we never arrive at the point where should anyone pull us out "it would be considered a calamity!"
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