June 09, 2021
NURSES who worked directly with COVID patients can expect "something" extra in their bank accounts perhaps as early as the end of June, Health Minister Renward Wells told the press yesterday.
Nurses have spoken out recently over not receiving a COVID-19 related honorarium they say they were promised from mid-2020.
Bahamas Nurses Union chief Amancha Williams has gone on record showing disdain for the lack of delivery of the honorarium as she said many countries around the world have lived up to their promise to their healthcare workers who put their health on the line caring for those who were sick with the virus.
“As I would have spoken to it in the past, the government made a commitment of some $100,000 to every individual in the healthcare sector who would have died in the course of treating COVID patients,” Mr Wells said before heading into a Cabinet meeting. “We had four individuals who are a part of the government’s healthcare system who succumbed to COVID in the course of their duties.
“The government is in the process of paying that $400,000 directly to the families who are deserving of it. Their dependents, their legal heir, will receive the $100,000. Then there is another $600,000 that we were going to be giving to about 150 individuals. In the first instance, we are seeking to do that by the end of this month for those who would have worked directly with COVID during the first wave.
“We have since had a second wave and the thinking was that we have had very dedicated hardworking healthcare workers throughout this entire course. So all of those who would have worked and have been exposed to COVID in the environment that the government would seek to give them something.
“We said it could be up to $5,000 … that’s up to, not that it would be $5,000. What we have done is put some $3 million in the new budget to be able to address that issue … that honorarium. So I am looking at July to be able to pay the others the honorarium. There is a thinking though, that perhaps we should pay it all in July … just make sure that we cover everyone because you know obviously, and oftentimes in The Bahamas if you pay some and you tell others you are going to pay them it becomes a problem.”
Mr Wells indicated that Cabinet will make that decision during this week on whether all nurses receive the funds in July or give some their honorarium in June.
“Everybody will receive something,” he continued. “It may not be $5,000. It probably won’t be $5,000 but for those who are so hardworking and dedicated, we are going to be giving them something. You can look in the budget and see that there is a line item of some $3 million.”
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