Minister of Health Renward Wells defended the government’s position on overtime pay for nurses for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wells said the government paid out some $162,000 to nurses from the Department of Public Health for working overtime. But it was later discovered that some nurses may not have been paid the overtime money due to time logged in manually but was not digitally recorded.
Why it matters
Some members of the Bahamas Nurses Union led by its president, Amancha Williams protested in Rawson Square on Wednesday morning demanding the overtime money promised to them by the government.
Pineridge Member of Parliament Frederick McAlpine in the House of Assembly on Wednesday suggested that Wells was deceptive for saying nurses were paid.
The big picture
When Duane Sands served as Minister of Health, healthcare workers on the frontline of the pandemic were guaranteed a $5,000 honorarium for March, April and May.
This was when the Ministry of Health was having a hard time finding health officials willing to handle COVID patients in the healthcare system.
What Wells says
Wells said when he became the Minister of Health in July, he was informed that nurses in the Department of Public health were not paid during Hurricane Dorian and some nurses were not paid for overtime during the pandemic.
“As minister, I asked the Ministry of Health for all documents that should have been logged—the quantum, the cost was given to this minister to go to the cabinet for the cabinet to make a decision to pay. The cabinet paper was written. I was told that the $162,000 for the nurses for March to September was all the log for the work. And that was paid,” Wells said.
Wells said he was surprised when the new year rolled in, and he heard that some nurses who worked overtime were not paid.
He vowed that the situation will be cleared up once the claims being made, are verified.
According to Wells, nurses are the only frontline workers who have already received the overtime pay, while doctors and support staff await the payment.