Batticaloa hospital plastic surgical unit faces threat of closure for want of docs

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

Consultant doctors attached to the Baticaloa Teaching Hospital (BTH) yesterday said that the Plastic Surgical Unit of the Hospital was experiencing a shortage of personnel.

A spokesman for the BTH said that though the Health Ministry had provided it with over 35 consultants including a plastic surgeon, it had failed to equip it with the adequate infrastructure. It also lacked human resources, he said.

The spokesman said that the Plastic Surgical Unit (PSU) established last year under Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Dr. H. A. S. Ratnayake, was badly in need of human resources. The unit, he said was on the verge of being shut down for want of medical officers.

Although the Health Ministry had not appointed medical officers, the consultant surgeon had been able to train a post intern doctor. But, he had been transferred to the Batticaloa Regional Director of Health Services (RDHS) recently. The Health Ministry, however, realising the need for his services at the PSU had permitted him to remain there, the spokesman said.

The hospital had been forced to release him due to the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) interference, he alleged. The BTH had to make internal arrangements for a doctor to be attached to the special unit and trained by a consultant.

The spokesman alleged that the GMOA had forced the BTH to release him to move to the National Hospital, Colombo. As a result the hospital had requested Dr. Ratanayake to close down the unit. "The Hospital caters to 600,000 people in the Baticaloa District while the PSU provides its service to the entire East of Sri Lanka with limited resources. The Unit’s services include the functional correction to improve the quality of life of victims with burn injuries and the correction of natural deformities and deformities caused by the war and accidents."

The Spokesman appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Health Ministry Secretary to ensure the provision of required resources to the PSU.

Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Health Ministry, contacted for comment, said that the situation had not been brought to the notice of the Health Ministry at the hospital directors’ meeting held this week. However it was the duty of the BTH authorities to retain the relevant doctor till the arrival of his replacement, he said.

The GMOA Media Spokesman, Dr. Naveen de Soysa said that the duty of the hospital administration was to collaborate with the Health Ministry or the GMOA branch unions in the Eastern Province to get the replacement.

However, there would be another batch of post interns sent to the province and the hospital could obtain the services of one of the new doctors, he said.

"The Administration should ensure the functioning of units without finding excuses to shut it down", Dr. Soysa added.

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