According to the GMOA Secretary Dr. Nalinda Herath, the post intern vacancy list prepared by the Health Ministry, in consensus with the heads of institutions and the GMOA has been unilaterally altered due to political interference.
It appears that the GMOA has taken the matter very seriously, and claimed that the action of the Health Ministry is without precedent and the first step towards political interference in doctors' transfers and their appointment process. It was also claimed that the GMOA as the Trade Union representing almost all doctors has a legitimate right to be involved in the transfer and appointment process as stated in the E-code.
Tug-of-war between the Health Ministry and GMOA is nothing new. In various times, various actions were taken by the GMOA over certain disputes with the Health Ministry. Sad part is it is neither the doctors nor the minister who pay for these tug-of-wars. It is the general public who do not have sufficient income to receive private medical services who would go pay for the disputes between the GMOA and the minister.
We wonder whether discussions were not an option in this circumstance. The answer of the GMOA is that, they decided to launch the token strike as they have exhausted all avenues of negotiations and because of the minister's intransigent attitude towards this issue.
On top of that GMOA called for the resignation of Minister Rajitha Senaratne. Further the GMOA had written to President Maithripala Sirisena requesting him for an immediate meeting to discuss several burning issues including the transfer policy. The GMOA in a letter to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also had requested him to ensure the recruitment of Post Intern Medical Officers to peripheral hospitals by safeguarding the policy of medical officer's transfers.
However, denying the allegations of the GMOA, Director General of Health Services Dr. Palitha Mahipala told the media that there was no political intervention in preparing the post intern list. He had stated that Minister Senaratne did not influence by any means in preparing the post intern list.
It seems that the two parties are passing the ball to each other and slinging mud at each other, instead of addressing the issue. If there has been a political interference in preparing post intern list that is an issue that needs to be looked up. GMOA too should come up with comprehensive evidence relating to the political intervention they referred to.
On the other hand, it appears that the minister too tries to wash off his hand and distance himself from the issue easily. Minister of Health, has responsibility of addressing the concerns raised by the trade unions in the health sector. Particularly, in the case of preparing the post intern list, the minister should take the opinion of the GMOA seriously, irrespective of the ongoing tug-of-war, as the GMOA too is involved in preparing the post intern list. Therefore, the issue should not be underestimated. The minister has responsibility to look into the matter seriously and resolve if there is any issue.
The medical profession is considered one of the most precious professions. Sri Lankans sometimes go to the extent of treating doctors like Gods. In that context, doctors as well as the ministry has a responsibility to act sensibly. As it appears there is a dire need of mutual respect and immediate requirement for a compromise. Minister as well as the GMOA must compromise soon, as both parties put thousands of people in trouble.
(Editorial - Ceylon Today)