Health workers raise concerns over Dominica Hospitals Authority Bill

Nurses on the front line at the PMH during COVID-19 pandemic

Changes, changes and more changes are in the pipeline for the health sector here in Dominica and if implemented, health workers fear that they may be adversely impacted .

The Government of Dominica, through the National Health Commission, is in the process of enacting four new pieces of legislation, Medical Professions Bill, Nursing Bill, Pharmacy Bill and finally, the Dominica Hospitals Authority Bill which has been under much  scrutiny by the Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU) and its members.

After a meeting with the Health Commission, the union met with health workers on the island and according to General Secretary of the DPSU Thomas Letang, “their overall feedback is that the bill, in the form it is being recommended, has a lot of negative implications for them and they have asked us to advise the Government to not rush this bill, because it’s very serious and we have to make sure that there is enough time to study and submit whatever recommendations we have.”

If enacted, the Authority, which will now be managed by a board of directors,  will be responsible for the overall management and administration of such hospitals and other health facilities as “the Minister may, by Order, designate.”

Speaking to Dominica News Online (DNO), Letang stated that new or non-appointed persons within that field will now be placed on a three year contract which, he says, the members have indicated is not the way to improve efficiency and performance  in the public service.

“So persons such as nurses, doctors, ward aids,domestic workers, pharmacists, lab technologists, whoever they are, coming into that line of work,they will never be able to go to the bank and negotiate a loan without being employed for no more than three years,” he said.

Letang contends that with the lack of private hospitals here on the island,  if the employees’ contracts are not renewed after the three years, they will be forced to seek employment outside of Dominica “and what is going to happen to us is we are going to have  people coming from other countries poorer than us and they are the ones who will be getting those jobs.”

For those who are currently appointed, benefits such as their study leave, sick leave, vacation leave, departmental leave, travelling allowance and security of tenure may be taken away – a possibility which public officers are not taking lightly.

Another worry of DPSU members is the possibility that union representation will be eliminated.

“Everyone employed at the hospital is currently represented by the union. In the act that is being presented, it makes absolutely no mention of union  representation because at some point everybody at the hospital – after those who have resigned and retired- all we will have at the hospital are people under contract  and there will be absolutely no need for union representation,” the General Secretary pointed out.

He added, “When the law takes effect, since those  people will be on contract, it will be very difficult  for us to get bargaining rights on their behalf because you would not be doing  collective bargaining for them but it would be issued with individual contract[s] so the move, while it may not be intentional, can really see a riddance of union representation at the hospital.”

According to Letang, another fear of persons in the health sector if this bill is enacted, is the possibility of victimization.

“If you go to sleep but you know that for your contract to be renewed it depends on certain people, then you cannot open your mouth and say anything; you will constantly be in fear.”

He said the union is not opposed to any move that will ensure that there is increased performance in the public service,  “because our position is at whether you are working in the private sector or in the public sector, there is always room  for improvement, but when changes are being done at a cost to these people, people who are front line workers, people who have exposed themselves and put themselves at risk during COVID-19 and other illnesses and we are seeing that instead they are compensated for their efforts, the whole thing is going to change  where they will be at a disadvantage, that definitely has to be of concern to us.”

Speaking on behalf of his members, Letang said that they have not been able to identify anything positive which can derive from this act, but if they do, they will share it with the general public.

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27 Comments

  1. September 16, 2020

    Am a labour doctor and we doing it in a labour way..labour.power makes every one póorer..we like pee.m….

  2. Dominican
    September 16, 2020

    So allu not seeing is china hospital, when the system frustrates and allu leave den de chinese doctors and nurses will fit in..common sense…labour law twaviye

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
    • Pissed
      September 16, 2020

      It’s obvious… it will be filled with Chinese, Cubans, n Venezuelans…

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0
  3. The Truth Be Told
    September 16, 2020

    There was a nice educated program that highlighted everything that is needed to know about the bill to be passed.

    What I notice is that everything is politicized. Very informative this was.

    Don’t you people want to see better procedures done?

    I wonder with the changes globally, why are you people so backward thinking. A lot of things need to be revamped. There are new technology and it is not being used effectively. Why? Because Unions etc do not want to see progress. Everything is politics and politics.

    I challenge the Unions, local Government, other organization to look at new ways of integrating technology, move forward. Didn’t COVID teach you that things are different and join in giving suggestions to get things right in this country and stop the bickering. Do not sow discord. Teach others to come on board and let us work to build Dominica.
    Then let the politics begin when 2024. Do u notice that time flies. Stop water time

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9
  4. RastarMarn
    September 15, 2020

    But wait nuh, didn’t China just fund those Hospitals???

    Marn smell a Rat Garçan dat souding like the Hospitals are now Privately ran by some ChinaMan investors and are no longer governmental Facilities,,,

    DNO allyou need to show allyou true colors wi dat need some investigating!!!

    Dat doesn’t sound right!!!

  5. RastarMarn
    September 15, 2020

    How comes them nurses not Striking???

    DNA allyou cannot come up with a copy of them Bills let people see???

    Marn Sure that dem Gazette people have copies of them bills there print out ready to be mailed out!!!

  6. RastarMarn
    September 15, 2020

    What is wrong with you people so what make you think that will change, the contract will make them care less cause they won’t have a vested interest in their duties,,,

    Allyou must be MaD man!!!

  7. bigger
    September 15, 2020

    Gone are the days when one use to start at the bottom and work their way to the top nowadays it’s a different cup of tea. You must have a contract of employment

  8. Scorpion
    September 15, 2020

    Knowing the way this government operates, it is safe to say, that the nurses, other health professionals and the PSU are given the illusion that they have any say or power to make any significant change in the bills presented. A lot will be said and will be up for discussion however, the Government is still going to enact the bill as they see fit. This bill only benefits those in power. It is interested that there is a proposition to withdrawn benefits such as vacation, study leave and sick leave, are these people robots? Are they not entitled to vacation, spending time with families, as it is now, a lot of families are suffering, mothers absent because they always at work, divorce rate is high among health professional, there is no family time. Continued education is important yet you wish to withdraw study leave? What kind of advisors this government has? What level of madness is this in Dominica? Nurses you are free to migrate.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0
  9. Lala
    September 15, 2020

    More health care workers will just leave. It’s that simple.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2
  10. Ibo France
    September 15, 2020

    DNO why are you so adamant on refusing to publish my innocuous comments? They are definitely neither libelous nor profane. Have you joined the growing list of news outlets that has been bought or influenced by this unscrupulous regime? Have you become a next Joseph Isaac? Apparently so! Money truly has a corrupting influence especially on those who are not well grounded. Stop your unnecessary censorship!

    ADMIN: You may consider your comment innocuous but it violated parts of our comment policy. Which can be viewed in full here: https://dominicanewsonline.com/news/policies/#comment-policy

    We apply this policy to everyone not just you. We do allow some leeway especially when criticizing public figures or institutions. However, we will delete comments that (and especially note the first two):

    > contain any material which violates or infringes the rights of any person, is defamatory or harassing or include ad hominem attacks.
    > a reasonable person would consider abusive, profane or offensive.
    > contain material which violates or encourages others to violate any applicable law
    > promote hate of any kind.
    > refer to people arrested or charged with a crime as though they had been found guilty.
    > contain links to “chain letters”, pornographic or obscene movies or graphic images
    > are excessively long and off-message.

  11. gench
    September 15, 2020

    Health professional DO NOT STAND FOR THIS. WHY SUCH AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE IN THE HANDS OF A BOARD…WE HAVE SEEN EXISTING BOARDS …A MESS. If it is not broken why fix it. We saw they broke Public Works, and Clifton Dupigny Community College and NDC…to a mess. do not allow this. We need to think of what is the ultimate goal of this. If there is a need to strengthen the structure and build in more controls then yes….but why break it down. NO WAY.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1
  12. Righteous
    September 15, 2020

    Kudos to the Medical Community. While I am not prevy to the Bill, I do not think that contracts are necessary a bad thing and should be implemented elsewhere in other sectors of Government jobs. Some of the concerns are legit, but the suggestion that people will come from other countries “poorer than us,” to fill those jobs? With contract jobs, there are checks and balances, yearly reviews, basic expectations etc. If one has great reviews each year, then at the end of the contract the powers that be decides that they are not going to renew that individual’s contract, I would imagine that that individual will have the opportunity to request some sort of review. I believe that contracts in certain professions leads to increase expectations and improve performance. There should be more contracts for Government jobs. The public may be better served in some areas such as in the Treasury, Registry, Post office, Immigration/Passport office just to name a few. We all need to raise our…

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6
  13. Shame
    September 15, 2020

    Can’t our people see that this labor party government is determined to destroy the middle class, professional class, and the hard-working individuals of this country. This labor party government is bound and determined to make this a society of beggars, and panderers. This Dominica was built on the backs of strong individuals with character and love for their communities. We have lost all that. And in the few instances where it still exists, they are trying to wipe it out. They are trying to make us a carbon copy of china, north korea, present venezuela, and all the other failed states, so that they can enrich and engorge themselves on the meager offerings of the state. In the afore-mentioned countries, note that the vast majority of people live below the poverty line. SHAME on the leaders, and their wicked ways. SHAME!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 4
  14. Goodwill
    September 15, 2020

    I wish to ask Mr Thomas Letang about the employees in the private sector who are hired on contract and have mortgages with the banks and built their houses and are paying their monthly instalments on their mortgages, how did they accomplish this? How did they negotiate and got approved mortgages on contracts?

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0
    • Frank N Stein
      September 16, 2020

      Apart from consultants drawing huge salaries and gratuities on contract, which employees of the private sector on contract for 1200 salaries are getting loans and building? In the private sector the only people on contract are making big money after working for a salary for years.

  15. My name
    September 15, 2020

    This is serious folks. Socialism to the max. Stand for your rights and the sick.
    Take your Country back. No joking now

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 5
  16. Ibo France
    September 15, 2020

    The uncaring members of the Skerrit’s cabal are like snipers that can’t shoot straight. They have caused a lot of collateral damage to the country. They have nuked the economy, shot down agriculture, bombed manufacturing and food processing, annihilated the once thriving middle class, and now they are taking deadly aim at the doctors, nurses and all healthcare employees, our frontline workers.

    In light of these egregious actions, it is unconscionable for people of influence to sit on their hands and watch the rapid demise of their once flourishing democracy.

    Dominicans, awake from your twenty years of hibernation for your country needs you more than ever before.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2
  17. click here
    September 15, 2020

    See what i mean. they does like to sneak in these bills and policies and LAWS without properly consulting the people who they will affect. Give it time dont rush it. Let all stakeholders and their representatives have a say.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 4
  18. Truth Be Told
    September 15, 2020

    Take what you all voted for! You reap what you sow! As my granny said, those who will not hear shall feel. Labour ka twavaie! Why on earth would any Government enact such a Bill in its Healthcare services where you want to develop some of the most dedicated and committed workers? You dream up a Bill to kill and destroy morale in the little Healthcare that we have in Dominica, it already not much. But you all stayed quiet when Dominica doctors who do not support Labour were being victimised and banned from our hospitals by this Government. Now who do you think is going to suffer from all of this? Us, we the poor working people.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 2
  19. Pizzagate
    September 15, 2020

    I fully endorse these changes to law as it relates to the health of people. Too many times certain people (nurses especially ) are biased and treat sick people like the hospital is their own on their time.
    Allu will pull up allu socks in that country now! It’s about time!

    Forward we go!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 10 Thumb down 28
    • My 2 cents
      September 15, 2020

      I certainly support you 100%!!!! Sometimes you go to the hospital and they act like you came at their dwelling houses to invade their privacy. Some of them treat patients like criminals -the sick attitude with which they talk to them. When they realize that their contract renewal depends on their work ethics and attitudes they will surely ask themselves a question! These are the ones who will have issues with the new bill…. the hard working, caring, loving nurses have NOTHING to fear.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 7
      • Concerned.
        September 16, 2020

        People who keep this…”well good for them” opinion really do not appreciate the level of sacrifice it takes to be health worker.

        When Hurricane Maria struck, we still had to go to work, whilst everybody else was hustling and looting. When the country went under lockdown for COVID-19…guess what ? We still had to go to work.

        When someone first contacted COVID-19 and nations were still trying to figure it out…we still had to take care of them.

        Try to think of that, the next time you start judging health care workers.

        So before you start thinking of ways to “get back” at health care workers for some perceived wrongdoings just remember whilst you are sleeping …there are doctors, nurses, orderlies domestic workers etc constantly risking our lives to keep everyone else safe.

        Before you complain about govt quarantine, remember that the ppl caring for you have been under quarantine before you arrived, and will be in quarantine after you leave.

  20. Garvey
    September 14, 2020

    This is a death nail for the public union and the ultimate goal is to have the hospital run like a private entity.That spell like a set up to make one set ah people money and the well being of the people take a back seat

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2
  21. L C Matthew
    September 14, 2020

    People need financial security, stability, and ability to earn a decent living without having to sell their souls to be comfortable. We will see a mass exodus out of Dominica. A young person goes to get a degree and masters doing all the right thing. Teaches at the college over 10 years cannot get a loan because they on contract. If something were to happen they are broke and poor. In the next 10 to 20years there are going to ba a lot of Dominicans who work 40 years plus for government and they broke. If you plan on staying Dominica you have to build a home by 25 for a 30 year mortgage. Any later and you will be owing on that home when you retire and the gratuity you earn will go to the bank for a house you cannot sell as an investment. We are running our people away. Pure madness!!!!!!!

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2
  22. Not A Herd Follower
    September 14, 2020

    Where is the government going with this Bill that seriously disadvantages health workers? We need to have our nurses, lab technicians and other health care personnel in permanent employment. We cannot put the health of our people at risk by having our medical staff and other healthcare workers employed at the whims and fancies of others. Additionally, this Bill will further eviscerate the middle class by denying health care workers opportunities (such as applying for mortgages) to improve their lot in life. The Bill, as is, is retrogressive in many aspects.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 1
    • dagood
      September 15, 2020

      No need for mortgage in DA my padna. Free houses everywhere. You get a house! You get a house. LOL Boss look jokes.

      Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 4

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