Docs in K’negala threaten trade union action

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) Kurunegala General Hospital branch yesterday warned that it would be compelled to resort to trade union action as some nurses had interfered with midwives’ labour room duties.

GMOA Kurunegala General Hospital Branch Secretary Dr. Amila Mahuragoda said that the lives of many expectant mothers were at high risk as the matrons had to issue the delivery kits to the midwives who were supposed to work in the labour room. It was the duty of the senior matrons to issue the delivery kits to the midwives.

He said around 1,200 deliveries were done in the Kurunegala hospital a month. The matrons had violated the Medical Ordinance section no 54. In accordance with the section 54 of the ordinance only the midwives were responsible for the deliveries in labour rooms. The rationale for not issuing the delivery kits to the midwives was that the midwives did not sign the attendance register kept by the matrons. "The attendance register is with the matron. The midwives have their own register and are on trade union action. Just because the midwives do not sign the register kept by the matron, the matron does not issue the delivery kits to the midwives. We cannot tolerate this situation. The GMOA will decide today what kind of trade union action will be taken."

Kurunegala Hospital Director Dr. Palitha Yapa, contacted for comment, said that he had issued necessary instructions to the midwives and the matrons to settle their dispute immediately. He had also referred the issue to Health Secretary Dr. Nihala Jayathilaka, he said.

Dr. Jayathilaka said that he would be sending DDG Dr. Ananda Gunasekera today to the Kurunegala General hospital to settle the dispute. He had asked for legal advice from the Attorney-General Palitha Fernando over the nurse-midwife conflict. The GMOA had mentioned that in accordance with the section 54 of the Medical Ordinance there was no provision nurse/midwife. But he had sought an opinion from the Attorney-General who would let him know the legal implications of the Medical Ordinance with reference to the nurse-midwife provision, the Health Secretary said.

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