Sri Lanka’s Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) has announced an island wide token strike for October 13, demanding solutions for delayed annual transfers of specialist doctors and delayed intern recruitments.
A GMOA statement on Thursday (07) said the will be in effect from 8am to 12 noon on October 13 if the government fails to respond to their demands.
“These transfers continue to be delayed due to Ministry of Health officials who are in the habit of delaying their assignments, and the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Health are constantly exchanging letters asking for clarifications on matters mentioned in the law and circulars,” the GMOA said.
“As a result, the stability of the health service is at risk of collapse and the closure of peripheral hospitals [is also a possibility]. The Central Committee that met today observed that these delays began in earnest in 2016 from the time of the former Director of Medical Services.”
The GMOA said from 2016 onwards the preparation and implementation of annual transfer lists have been delayed for nearly a year and the publication of transfer lists of specialist doctors and grade doctors for the year 2021, due to be announced in November 2020, was delayed by eight months.
“The transfer list of grade doctors for the year 2022 is being prepared arbitrarily by the officials of the Ministry of Health only without the approval of the Transfer Board,” GMOA said.
Regarding the recruitment of interns, the association said the authorities are also delaying the next batch of doctors that need to undergo internship training.
“Due to this, the process of granting post internship appointments is also being delayed.”
The GMOA said the association decided to go for a strike after seeing the authorities failing to resolve the issue on a number of occasions.
“Although these issues have been brought to the notice of relevant officials, including the Secretary of Health, on a number of occasions, they have been shown to be indifferent in resolving those issues.”
It was also decided not to apply for transfers as a trade union action until the effective date of the list of transfers published for the year 2022 is corrected, the statement said.
The GMOA f urther said the authorities responsible for the inefficiency of the Ministry of Health should take full responsibility for the problems caused to the health service and the inconvenience to the public due to this trade union action.
“We request the Minister of Health to take immediate action to resolve this issue regarding medical transfers and appointments,” it said.