Doctors' strike called off

by Kalinga Weerakkody
The doctors strike at the Colombo National Hospital was temporarily called off yesterday following an assurance given by Health Minister P. Dayaratne on Friday to appoint a retired judge to inquire into the dispute between a senior consultant and a nurse which triggered a two-day strike.

Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) spokesman Dr. Rukshan Bellana told the Sunday Island that the GMOA and Nurses Union members had agreed on the outcome of the meeting and as a result normal services of the Colombo National Hospital (CNH) commenced from 10.00 a.m. yesterday.

The dispute occurred when a senior consultant allegedly verbally abused a nurse for providing him with a torn theatre kit inside a casualty theatre.

The strike was launched over three demands which included starting a fresh inquiry into the incident, moving the nurse concerned out of the unit until the inquiry concludes and inquiring into the events after the incident which led nurses to launch a 14-day boycott of operations performed by the particular doctor.

Dr. Bellana said at that meeting the minister had agreed on the first and third demand considering the hardships faced by thousands of patients.

Around one thousand doctors struck work while emergency cases at the hospital were attended to.

Meanwhile, the Nurses Union has also put forward a condition that nurses would abstain from assisting Dr. M. M. Janapriya, the doctor concerned, in surgery while the inquiry is in progress.

Following a preliminary inquiry, the Health Ministry had charge-sheeted the doctor concerned and the nurse in charge of the theatre at the time. There were no charges against the nurse concerned.

Doctors demanded a fresh inquiry on the basis that the conclusions of the inquiry may have been influenced by the protest campaign conducted by nurses during the time.

Meanwhile, the director of the CNH Dr. Hector Weerasinghe told ‘The Sunday Island’ that the GMOA officially informed him yesterday that the strike had been called off temporarily.

He said as the result of the two weeks strike some services of the CNH such as OPD, clinics services and routine services were crippled. But the emergency services and the Intensive Care Unit service were carried out partially.