DGHS says GMOA cannot make demands over post - intern list


By Dilanthi Jayamanne

Director General Health Services (DGHS) Dr Palitha Mahipala yesterday said that in accordance with the Establishment Code the Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA) could not dictate terms to the Ministry when giving appointments to doctors.

Addressing the Media at the Health Ministry, Dr Mahipala said however that the trade union had been allowed by the Establishment Code to intervene and instruct the Ministry in "doctors' transfers only." That too the union membership should be more than 15 percent, he said.

The DGHS explaining the Health Ministry's stance in face of today's (31) strike by the GMOA said the Ministry was merely doing its duty to facilitate a smooth countrywide health care service. There were 1065 post interns awaiting appointment and 3578 existing vacancies in hospitals and health care institutions which had been shut down due to the lack of medical officers to run them.

The Health Ministry called for representations from hospital administrators and the GMOA before making the list early this year. However the GMOA has had second thoughts after it was approved by all concerned parties and uploaded on the Ministry's website. He said the Union had then called for further discussions regarding the list with Health Minister, Dr Rajitha Senaratne, who agreed to meet them in Parliament. They were then referred for further discussions to the DGHS subsequently.

Dr Mahipala said that as a result the GMOA and the Ministry were finally able to reach an agreement after long hours of discussion. However, it appears that they are still not satisfied, the DGHS said.

Nevertheless, the Health Ministry was ready to give appointments from early June.

The appointments would be made according to need. The earlier batch of post intern doctors would be replaced by those who are to be appointed with the 2016 list. There were also vacancies of those following post graduate training and those who had gone abroad to be filled by this list.

There were also Health institutions which had been shut down due to lack of doctors. There were eight of them in the North Central province alone. In addition there were divisional hospitals and primary health care centres in Badulla, Nuwara Eliya, Matale, Ratnapura, Monaragala, Kurunegala, Baticaloa, Ampara, Jaffna Mulaithivu, Kilinocchi and Mannar which had also been closed for the same reason.

Responding to a question regarding the GMOA's accusation of political interference DGHS said Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne had only urged him to ensure that these health care institutions were functional once more. "As Health officials it is our duty to implement the policies made by the government. This was the only direction given to us by the Health Minister," he said. There was constant call from Provincial Health Ministers to re-open those institutions for the convenience of patients from rural areas of Sri Lanka.

Responding to a question Dr Mahipala said the Health Ministry would face today's strike to the best of its ability. But hopefully the GMOA would be convinced to discuss this issue further rather than resort to a trade union action and inconvenience the patients, he said.

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