Thousands affected by doctors’ strike


By Dilanthi Jayamanne

Out Patient Departments (OPDs) and clinics conducted in government hospitals were largely affected during the four-hour token strike by the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) yesterday morning.

A spokesman for the Jaffna Teaching Hospital said that only emergencies had been attended to during the strike. About 1,000 patients who visited five clinics and the OPD had been affected, he said.

Sources at the Trincomalee hospital said that over 850 patients had been turned away as clinics could not be held in the morning. OPD services were also affected. The administration of the Nawalapitiya District Hospital could not be contacted for comment. The Administration of the Kuliyapitiya Base Hospital refused to provide information over the phone saying that the Medical Superintendent needed to be contacted. However, he was not available for comment.

Director of the National Hospital, Dr Anil Jasinghe said that OPD and clinics had been affected by the doctors strike. Admissions, emergency services had been spared. He said the hospital catered to approximately 5,000 patients daily at the OPD and in its clinics.

A spokesman for the Kandy Teaching Hospital said that over 1,000 patients had been affected by the cancellation of the morning clinics and OPD services due to the strike.

Meanwhile, the GMOA said they would stage a silent picket on the road to the Hultsdorp Courts today (05) in protest of two separate court hearings. They are the Supreme Court hearing of a petition filed by two medical students of the South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) seeking an order directing authorities to redraft the Medical Service Minute to enable the non-state universities and non state recognised degree awarding institutes within Sri Lanka to be recognised by the state medical service and, a writ application of a SAITM medical graduate for provisional registration with the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC).

GMOA Spokesman Dr Naveen de Zoysa following the morning’s token strike by his union in countrywide hospitals, warned it would keep a tab on government authorities to ensure that the autonomy of the SLMC was maintained and not interfered with. The Union was ready to revert to strong trade union measures if health and government authorities attempted to influence the decisions taken by the SLMC regarding SAITM. The GMOA’s Central Committee was scheduled to convene a meeting at 12 noon today (05), he said.

Dr. De Zoysa said the GMOA had staged a token strike yesterday morning protesting against the conspiracies of the Ministries of Health and Higher Education to gran SLMC registration for SAITM medical graduates.

Dr. De Zoysa said they (GMOA) had also agitated against the government decision to go ahead with the signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) without formulating a national policy, the violation of the aims of the National Drug Policy, the government’s failure to provide national schools for children of doctors, who were on transfer or returning after foreign training and the attempts by the government to disintegrate the government service.

The Vice President of the Government Dental Surgeons’ Association (GDSA), Dr Chandana Jayakody said his union had struck work country wide yesterday against attempts by SAITM to get provisional registration. He said the union would also intervene in the writ application filed in the court of appeal through a lawyer as a party to the case.

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