Sunday 29th July, 2007


Hospital dismisses 16 young medics

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By Prior Beharry

Sixteen young doctors have been dismissed from Port-of-Spain General Hospital, allegedly without any reason being given for their dismissal.

Yesterday, five senior doctors called on Health Minister John Rahael to say why the junior doctors were fired without reason.

The doctors also are calling on Rahael to explain why he was creating “an artificial shortage” of doctors in the country, in that it appears that local doctors were not being hired by the regional health authorities.

Senior doctors at the press conference at the Medical Board offices at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC), Mt Hope, were Dr Neil Singh, secretary of the Medical Council of T&T; Dr David Bratt, council member; Dr Hughley Hanoman, clinical director for the Department of Medicine at the EWMSC; Dr Ramesh Mahabir, V-P of T&T Medical Association; and Dr Balkaran Ramkissoon, president of the T&T Medical Association.

Mahabir said on Friday morning, the 16 junior doctors were called into the administration office at Port-of-Spain General Hospital and told they would not have a job next month.

He said these doctors had recently completed their internship programmes, were interviewed for their current jobs, and had been working for a month.

Mahabir said when the fired doctors began working a month ago, they were doing so without contracts. He noted that this was not unusual since junior doctors at the North-West and South-West Regional Health Authorities took a while to actually get contracts.

He also said it had come to the attention of the board that 13 interns at San Fernando General were not given jobs after completing their internship.

In the context of claims that the Government was against hiring local doctors, Mahabir noted that at the two general hospitals— Port-of-Spain and San Fernando—there were 125 non-nationals employed as doctors.

The five senior doctors all stressed that they had nothing against foreign doctors working in T&T, but insisted that Rahael must tell them why an “an artificial shortage” of doctors was being created in the health sector.

Mahabir also pointed out that the parallel medical board, created through an act of Parliament to allow United Nations and Cuban doctors to work in T&T, would cease to exist on Tuesday.

Singh also alluded to the amendments to the Medical Board Act, currently before Parliament, that sought to increase the power of the Health Minister to appoint seven out of 11 members to the Medical Council.

As a temporary UNC Senator, Singh had waded into Rahael for these amendments, saying he wanted to control the council, which had been run by doctors for more than 130 years.

Yesterday, he said he did not believe that the firing of the young doctors had anything to do with him being appointed temporarily.

Singh said it was just an opportunity to present the case of the Medical Board to the Members of Parliament who had to vote on the bill.

Hanoman said shortages persisted throughout the health sector in terms of doctors. He said there was need for five doctors in the wards at Mt Hope, seven in Accident and Emergency and four in surgery.

Ramkissoon said at San Fernando Hospital, vacancies existed in every department. He did not produce any figures. He noted, however, that a number of surgeries scheduled for last week were cancelled because there were no anaesthetist available and that this would happen again this week.

Singh also noted that Rahael had asked the Medical Board to register 20 Cuban doctors who were due in the country in a few weeks’ time.

He asked: “How can we entertain such a request when our own local doctors are being denied employment?”

Singh again questioned why it was that local doctors were not being given jobs.

“Because the parallel board only comes into to play when there is an acute shortage of doctors here.

“Can it be correctly said that there is an acute shortage of doctors here, when our local doctors are being denied a job?

Calls to Rahael’s cellphone went unanswered.

©2005-2006 Trinidad Publishing Company Limited

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