National policy: Cure for health sector ills
While the health sector has plunged into turmoil yet again, it is encouraging to find that the need for a permanent and effective method for arbitration of conflicts in this sector has caught the attention of legislators.
Various views have been expressed regarding trade union action in government hospitals. There is no doubt that it is the common man that endures hardship.
Be it doctors, paramedics, nurses, or casual employees, it is the duty of all employees of government hospitals to do their best for patients. Nature of this service needs kind hearts to go out of the way to heal the suffering. It is obvious that strikes go against the ideals of this noble service.
On the other hand what the health service has done for this country even under barest minimum facilities needs to be admired. Recurring problems in the health sector shows the need for an effective body to listen to and deal with grievances of health staff.
People have suffered enough. Health Ministry, all health sector trade unions, medical associations including Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), legislators/peoples representatives should find a way to see an end to this.
‘Health Sector Arbitration Panel’ proposed by SLMA (apex professional association of the medical profession in Sri Lanka and it is not a trade union) is a good option. Needless to say such a body should be independent, acceptable to all and have necessary powers. And when a demand is unfair Arbitration Panel should be able to say so as much as it would heed to reasonable requests.
It will be foolish for authorities to keep accusing each other when there is a crisis and forget the whole thing when it is over. Solution to one problem should not lead to another crisis, like a trade union action by a different category of employees.
Trade union action in the health sector almost invariably ends in unions winning a reasonable portion of demands. Authorities turning a blind eye to the grievances of trade unions is another matter. In the name of affected patients I appeal to all parties to get together and work out a plan to avoid such turmoil in future.
Dr. Pradeep Samarakoon
|NEWS | FEATURES | BUSINESS | EDITORIAL | CARTOON | SPORTS|