Dearth of doctors at SJGH a major problem

By Dilanthi Jayamanne

The dearth of doctors at the Sri Jayewardenapura General Hospital (SJGH) has proved to be a big problem.

SJGH sources said yesterday that currently there was a shortage of over ten medical officers.

The hospital was forced to temporarily shut down certain sections, of some of the units, including the Cardiology and recently inaugurated Nephrology Unit. The Health Ministry, when requested, promised to appoint several post interns. They alleged, however, that the postings were blocked by a powerful trade union. The hospital was forced to advertise the vacancies, they said.

However, the response SJGH received was poor. Some of the applicants backed out once they learnt that the post was not permanent. Despite the high salary scales, they are recruited on contract. The Management is unable to recruit doctors to the permanent cadre as it is unable to support doctors who qualify as consultants at the Post Graduate Examination. The consultant cadre of the hospital is full, so, should these medical officers qualify as consultants they would not be able to receive jobs at the hospital.

The hospital board recently decided to overcome the issue by absorbing medical officers, who have completed six to seven years, into the permanent cadre. They would be entitled to sit for their post graduate examinations. They would have to leave SGJH once they qualify. Sources said that Post Graduates would be able to apply for jobs in the private sector as they could not be absorbed into the government health service.

Sources said however, that the board decision would require a nod from the Health Ministry.

The Health Ministry, when contacted, said that there had been an issue with regard to the dearth of doctors at SJGH. However, there was also a clear need for post interns to serve in several government hospitals. The Ministry is unable to post them to some of these hospitals due to interference from trade unions who demand their pound of flesh, the said.

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