Medical professionals cry foul over fuel price hike

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The Medical and Civil Rights Professional Association of Doctors (MCPA) warned the increase in fuel prices could seriously affect the provision of services in the peripheries of the country.

President MCPA, Dr.Chamal Sanjeewa yesterday (24)  said with petrol and diesel prices topping Rs 400 per litre, specialists’ doctors who travel from Colombo to outstation areas due to the lack of proper quarters for them would be reluctant to spend such fabulous amounts on a daily basis to reach those hospitals.

Dr. Sanjeewa urged the Government to at least consider initiating a coupon system for emergency services in hospitals to include consultants, staff in intensive care units (ICUs) and those in Out Patient Departments (OPDs). He said hospital administrators and Regional Directors of Health (RDH) too would have to consider increasing allocations for fuel for ambulances and vehicles used by MOH officers to carry out their services.

The situation would affect staff serving in hospitals as a majority of them use private transport and don’t live in hospital quarters. Only a small percentage of them have quarters to live in.Also, public transport services were unpredictable, he said.

But the biggest blow would come when dissatisfied doctors and skilled health services decide to either join the private sector on a full-time basis or leave the country for good.

He added that with the new Health Ministry Circular instructing the slashing of extra duty payments and other allowances paid to the state health service which was more than their basic salaries.

Meanwhile, doctors, nurses and professions supplementary to medicine (PSM) of General Hospital, Hambantota have warned they would strike without further notice if their salaries were slashed as has been stated in Circular FBI/02/2022 and the letter issued on 13 May 2022.

In a letter signed by branch unions of the Government Medical Officers’ Association, (GMOA), the Association of Specialists (AMS) Government Nursing Officers’ Association (GNOA), Public Service United Nurses Union (PSUNU), All Ceylon Nurses Union (ACNU) Joint Council of Professions Supplementary to Medicine (JCPSM) and the Government Physiotherapists Association (GPTA) warned that trade union action would be taken without  warning should their final pay packet be reduced because allowances exceeded their basic pay.

By Dilanthi Jayamanne