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Public Health Ministry criticised for imposing pension scheme on contracted Medical Doctors

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The Public Ministry is being condemned for wanting to force a pension scheme on medical Doctors without proper consultation, forcing the health workers to lose many of their current benefits.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services, Dr. Vindhya Persaud is not in agreement with moves by the Public Health Ministry to have all contracted medical doctors placed on a pension scheme. She made this comment on Thursday (April 6, 2017) after touring the Diamond Diagnostic Centre as part of the function of the Sectoral Committee.

Dr. Persaud thinks the way in which it is being done is wrong since doctors are of the view that it is an attack on them and they are being penalised.

It was during March 2017 that the medical Doctors got wind of the decision by the Ministry without their approval.

“I feel very strongly about the issue of transferring Doctors without discussing with them, without consulting them from the contract system to the pensionable scheme, because Doctors are very important to this country,” said Dr. Persaud.

She said “many of them (Doctors) worked above and beyond the call of duty and the on-call duty what they receive is very small. So there’re several factors at play here. Those who are just employed by the Ministry of Health, they earn less than some of the other Doctors. So if you transfer them, they will lose not only their gratuity, they lose some of their on-calls. They are left with nothing much to live on.”

Dr. Persaud who formerly worked in the public sector said she understands what is at stake for the healthcare providers.

“You are not giving them severance pay, you not giving them the percentage back on their salaries so they are losing all the way round. They losing their benefits, they losing their gratuity, they losing a percentage of their salary so it’s a, lose-lose situation for a Doctor. If you want to ensure that Doctors preform, if you want to ensure they contribute, you must recognise what they are giving to the society and they would have invested years of training too so that is available resource for this country” explained Dr. Persaud.

In addition, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services also warned that migration may increase in the Health Sector if the Ministry is to take this course of action.

“We will lose resources from Guyana. Those who have contracts or were under contract and have to stay, they have no choice but there are others who will up for a better salary because it’s not only the doctors, you have to understand these are young professionals with families…when we look at the people who are being panelized by all the taxes health, education, you talking about parking meter now you talking about Doctors it’s the middle class and the middle class reflects the health of a country, the stability of the economy,” she said.

The Ministry of Public Health in a public notice, is inviting all government medical Doctors, more so the contracted employees, to a meeting where their appointment and award to pensionable status are to be discussed at the National Cultural Centre. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 hours on April 10.

Several Doctors would have declined from signing any new agreement with the Government, since they were never consulted on the matter.

“I ain’t signing any form because nothing was discussed officially with us,” said a City Medical Doctor who opted not to be named.

Another told News Room that “we are now going on the pension plan they want us to sign the new documents, of which we would not be entitled to our gratuity anymore but everything else remain the same no increase in salary, we still have to serve out or contract years before we would be allowed free travel out the country, we have to do our hinterland rotation also.

Both of the Doctors are of opinion that the new document is just to allow the smooth transition over to the pension plan even without having a meeting to discuss any concerns the Doctors may have on the issue.

The frustrated Doctors also added that their present contract for five years states that they are entitled to gratuity until then, noting that “these people (Public Health Ministry) behaving like Fidel Castro (Former Prime Minister of Cuba)…(sigh). ”

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