PEOPLE AS TAX PAYERS DON’T HAVE TO FUND HEALTH SERVICE IF THEY ARE IGNORED BY THE SLMC
A NEW MEDICAL LAW TO BE DRAFTED TO REMOVE ALL SHORTCOMINGS IN THE EXISTING ORDINANCE
GMOA WRITES TO ALL EXCEPT THE MEDIA
ENACTING A NEW ORDINANCE IN TWO MONTHS IS TOO SHORT; AT LEAST SIX MONTHS AND PUBLIC DELIBERATIONS NEEDED
The GMOA, under the signatures of their President Anuruddha Padeniya and Secretary Haritha Aluthge had sent a two page letter in Sinhala to President Maithripala Sirisena, with copies to the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, to the Speaker of Parliament, to all Cabinet Ministers, to all MPs, to the Attorney General and many others except the media, with the long title “To keep you informed of damage caused to the Sri Lanka Medical Council and to the whole health system by Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne”.
The letter was dated 15 October 2018 and was followed by an “Internal Memo” on the same day written in English, sent to all GMOA branches titled “Abolition of current Medical Ordinance and SLMC”, signed by GMOA Secretary Aluthge.
This pleading of a sort made to President Sirisena comes after their very fiery threat made at the media briefing on September 6, 2018 in response to the statement made by Prof. Colvin Gunaratana, who said this “the SLMC has to be restructured for the benefit of people”.
They warned this government, the GMOA would lead a massive strike never seen in the history of Sri Lanka, immediately and without warning “if the SLMC is touched in any manner”.
The tone of thuggery with which this threat was shouted out, cannot now be watched and listened to, as this particular video clip has been removed from the official GMOA website. That being out of reference, now comes a very pleading letter, after Minister Rajitha Senaratne appointed a Committee of five by letter dated September 20, 2018, to “Draft a new enactment in place of the existing Medical Ordinance” within two months, in order to provide the service expected by the public.
The Committee consists of two Professors, Nilanthi de Silva (Actg. President SLMC) and Harendra de Silva, along with DG Health Services Palitha Fernando PC (Former AG) and Dr Palitha Abeykoon. Acting Registrar/SLMC was appointed Secretary to the Committee.
The mandate given to the Committee is plain and clear. A new Medical Law to be drafted to remove all shortcomings in the existing Medical Ordinance to provide for a new SLMC that would serve the people.
Minister Senaratne very clearly says, “02. Examine the legislations that govern the General Medical Council (GMC) of the United Kingdom and other countries comparing with the Medical Ordinance for the purpose of identifying positive developments in the field of regulations of medical and allied health professions in other countries”.
Now, what on earth is wrong with that? How can such improvements called for, “Damage the SLMC and the whole health system” as stupidly claimed by the GMOA leadership?
The whole 02 page plead made to President Sirisena by the GMOA is a total distortion of facts and events, churned out to maintain their grip on the SLMC and the Health Service, obviously for selfish reasons.
Their pleading to President says, “as you are well aware, the main task of the Medical Ordinance is to (1) safeguard the medical profession and (2) to safeguard the standard of medical education”. IF that is the purpose of the existing Medical Ordinance, that alone demands replacement of this Medical Ordinance with one, that would “serve the people”.
We don’t have to contribute to “safeguard a medical profession” that selfishly serves itself and we don’t have to safeguard a medical education that turns out medical doctors who can only diagnose illnesses and write out (illegible) prescriptions to mint money.
We need State University medical faculties that can turn out decent, disciplined and well cultured medical practitioners who are truly professionals.
It is interesting and amusing too, that all six allegations levelled against Minister Senaratne by the GMOA and listed in their pleading to the President, tend to say that since 2006 with Minister Senaratne, the SLMC was wholly devalued, the medical education and the required minimum qualifications to enter medical faculties have also been brought down.
The amusing fact is, sadistic medics who allegedly rape and kill innocent young girls (Negombo Hospital case. Read http://transyl2014.blogspot.com/2018/10/blog-post_96.html) medics who allegedly drink and drive, who provide false certifications to clear colleagues of criminal faults and groups of medical professionals who behave like hooligans, fighting for parking slots holding patients as hostage, were all products when the SLMC as the GMOA claims was in better shape before 2006 and before Minister Senaratne.
If the primary purpose of the SLMC under the present medical ordinance is to “safeguard the medical profession”, the SLMC by now should have suspended all those medical doctors who insulted their own profession from its registry of medical practitioners. But they don’t. That itself is proof, the SLMC in the hands of the medical profession does not safeguard standards and ethics in the medical profession.
All that speaks for the ‘public need’ to revamp the SLMC. The GMOA allegation that Minister Senaratne had not filled the vacant posts of President and Registrar of SLMC was not necessitated, with the new draft law to be finalised in just two months. This SLMC is on its way out.
Bottom line is, it is the people (tax payers) who fund “free” education, medical education, the public health services including salaries and all perks and privileges enjoyed by medical doctors, their duty free ‘permit’ vehicles, and the State run SLMC as well.
People don’t have to fund any of these, if they are ignored by the SLMC and if the GMOA claims the SLMC is there to safeguard medics.
Their “internal memo” says:
“Dr Senaratne claims that this move is to introduce laymen into the Medical Council in order to ensure ‘high quality’ inquiries with ‘better’ outcomes against doctors based on patients’ complaints”.
While there is a serious need to have high quality independent inquiries on complaints against medical doctors made to the SLMC, these are lies and utter lies.
This very statement in their “internal memo” proves the GMOA leaders would stoop to any low, in satisfying their greed. There is no mention to that effect anywhere in the whole letter that appointed the Committee.
The GMOA leaders seem to suffer from what I diagnose as “chronic lie-mania”.
As mentioned in their pleading to the President, they also say in their “internal memo”,
“He further claims, that the demand to abolish the Medical Ordinance was made by persons such as Saman Rathnapriya, Ravi Kumudesh and Kusal Perera”. No person is named in the letter signed by the Minister appointing the Committee which says:
“I am in receipt of number of representations from the members of Parliament, the general public, professional bodies, and the Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) regarding deficiencies in the existing medical ordinance and the necessity for a new legislation to amend status of affairs of the SLMC in order to provide the service expected by the public. Several members of Parliament highlighted this matter at the debate held on September 07, 2018 for second reading of the ‘Medical Amendment Bill’ which introduced the Specialist Registry.”
While I do not know what the other two persons named by the GMOA leaders had to with this restructuring of the SLMC through a new law, I take pride if the Hon. Minister had heeded my arguments and requests to enact a new law and overhaul the present SLMC to include other professionals and reputed and recognised laymen and women.
A necessary change I lobbied for, through these pages in the DM. In these pages I wrote over one year and six months ago on March 3, 2017 an article titled “SLMC needs overhaul” that was accessed by over 5,500 online readers wherein I said:
“In our culture of professional selfishness and arrogance, the SLMC to be left in the hands of the medical profession alone would be too dangerous to the health of the nation.”
Therefore, in providing for an alternate option I wrote:
“The way out would be to include other professions as ‘community’ representations. It has to provide for provincial community representation as well, to make it a nationally representative body”. I made references to the Medical Board of Australia (MBA) and to the Medical Council of Canada (MCC) that have federal representations and also to the British GMC. All these bodies have good gender representation as well as “lay members” who are not medical professionals. On GMOA arguments, these countries must therefore be in a huge medical crisis by having “lay members”.
Ignoring all the lies and misinterpretations by the GMOA, what needs to be stressed here is that, the Committee appointed by Minister Senaratne should be further improved including few more lay persons and with more women representation.
Health of a country is more about “mothers and children”. It is also necessary to provide at least six months to the Committee to have public consultations and have the Draft enactment in the public domain for social dialogue, before the Minister goes to the Cabinet with it.
If as the Minister says it should serve the interest of the people and no doubt it should, then the people have the right to discuss it, before it becomes law.
If as the GMOA says, the Minister accedes to my requests, I wish he would accede to this request too, to further improve in producing a law that can serve the people and keep out selfish and greedy professional interests.