Some public sector doctors on sick outThursday, July 01, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica— Some of the island's Government-paid medical doctors have reportedly called in sick at hospitals across the island.
Reports reaching Observer Online are that the medical professionals began calling in sick on Thursday morning.
The action by the medical professionals is fuelled by the displacement of more than 140 doctors, whose employment contracts expired at midnight, along with other issues affecting the health care workers within the public health system.
When contacted, Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, said he could not confirm or deny whether the public sector doctors were on sick out.
"I can't at this point," he replied in a WhatsApp message, while adding that he could be contacted later today for an update.
However, Opposition spokesperson on Health and Wellness, Dr Maurice Guy, told Observer Online that he had received reports that doctors are currently on sick out at the Spanish Town Hospital and the Mandeville Regional Hospital.
"I have heard that at the Spanish Town Hospital and the Mandeville Regional Hospital there have been sick-outs, and that the consultants have been manning the wards since morning, and they have been discharging patients who are not deemed emergency," Guy said.
He noted that he understands that the doctors at these hospitals are "in solidarity with their colleagues who have been denied re-employment".
He added that, "One hundred and forty-five doctors have not gotten any contract from the Ministry of Health nor the regional health authorities, and this is one of the four points of their sick-out this morning. The other ones relate to the non-payment of allowances that are due to them, as well as some gratuity payments that are outstanding for some significant period of time."
Meanwhile, Guy is urging the Government to "proceed with alacrity" to have the issues faced by the doctors resolved.
"We cannot at this particular time when we are in the midst of a pandemic afford to lose the services of the very doctors who we relied on during the time when we had the huge spikes of COVID-19 cases in this country," he asserted.
"The Government needs to appreciate that we are in a changing health environment where there is the need for more doctors in the system, and not what is necessarily in the establishment, which has not been reviewed for two decades in terms of the number of posts within the establishment," he continued.
Calls placed to president of Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA), Dr Mindi Fitz-Henley for developments within the public health sector went unanswered.
It is understood that a meeting held between officials of the island's four regional health authorities and the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA) ended yesterday without some of the doctors' issues being resolved.
Another meeting is scheduled to be held between the two parties to have further dialogue on the matters affecting the nation's doctors.