Health ministry yet to meet with JMDA about out-of-work doctors


Health ministry yet to meet with JMDA about out-of-work doctors

Monday, July 13, 2020

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THE Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) has been left in the lurch, as a Saturday meeting promised by health ministry Permanent Secretary Dunstan Bryan to address unemployment issues facing junior doctors, has still not happened.

“There is no correspondence yet, we still have not heard from them. We already requested a meeting. If we have requested it, it is now up to them to decide when they will meet with us,” said Dr Elon Thompson, JMDA president.

Yesterday the Jamaica Observer reported that on July 1, when the 2020 medical year began, doctors across the various health regions were being sent home after they reported to health centres and hospitals to assume their duties.

According to Dr Thompson, those affected are senior house officer (SHO) doctors who are seeking to transition to medical officer grade one (MO1) positions.

The JMDA president told the Sunday Observer he has received more than 40 reports of doctors who are without jobs, but he expects the number to increase as members indicate that it is closer to 100 and reporting is being done in an ad hoc fashion.

Further, other doctors shared that on the last contractual day, June 30, they were handed back their applications for MO1 positions and told no jobs were available.

To address the issues, the JMDA last Thursday penned a letter to Bryan, seeking an urgent meeting to address the lack of communication between the ministry, regional health authorities and the JMDA. In addition, the doctors want solutions regarding protocols and standards that govern how doctors are employed, as they say sometimes they get less than 48 hours' notice to report to work, which might be in remote areas.

When the Observer contacted Bryan last Friday, he said SHOs do not automatically become medical doctors and the issues raised were being resolved at the regional level.

Bryan also refuted claims of fiscal challenges and directives being issued by the ministry to send home doctors, explaining that the MO1 is an established post which SHOs transition into every year. He said because of COVID-19, this year is seeing a delay in the transition.

On Friday the Observer was informed by Stephen Davidson, director of communications at the health ministry, that Bryan would be meeting with the JMDA on Saturday to discuss the matter, but no meeting was arranged or conducted with the JMDA.

— Kimberley Hibbert

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