- Medical specialists say it’s an arbitrary move
- Ministry says it’s already stipulated in the Establishment Code
By Sheain Fernandopulle
Concerns are rising among medical specialists following an incident in which the Ministry of Health instructed a neurologist to repay the salary earned during his postgraduate training period in Sri Lanka. In addition to the salary earned during the postgraduate training, the specialist has also been informed to pay the fees for the Postgraduate Institute of Medicine (PGIM) examination and course, both of which were paid out of the specialist’s personal funds and are not covered by the relevant bond.
In a letter dated 22 September, 2023, Dr. Priyantha Athapattu, the Director of Tertiary Care Services at the Ministry of Health, informed the specialist of the bond repayment requirement.
The specialist received a detailed breakdown of all payments made during his overseas training period from 25 August, 2021 to 24 August, 2023, as well as information on loans and other expenses incurred during his postgraduate training.
The Daily Mirror obtained a copy of the letter, which specified that the medical officer must repay a total of Rs. 9,128,747.05. This includes Rs. 2,680,108 as salary received during overseas training, Rs. 20,871.75 in other allowances, Rs. 51,000 for the PGIM Exam Fee, Rs.148,000 for the PGIM Course Fee, and Rs. 6,228,767.30 as local salary.
Sources close to the matter expressed astonishment at the ministry’s demand, as it is unprecedented for medical specialists to have to repay the salary earned during their postgraduate training.
The bond agreement does not stipulate that the salary earned during the postgraduate training period should be reimbursed.
Hence, the medical community awaits further clarification from the Ministry of Health regarding this controversial demand, and hopes for a resolution that is fair to all parties involved.
Meanwhile, when inquired, a senior official of the Health Ministry told Daily Mirror that it’s not the salary but a penalty equal to the expenditure for the PGIM training.
“As per the 13 C of the E Code, the Health Ministry introduced a penalty equal to the expenditure for the PGIM training,” the official stated.
“According to the official, the expenditure include salaries, remuneration, exam fees, course fees, monthly allowances, accommodation and air tickets,” the official added.
However, the recovering of the said penalty has not been implemented earlier but was introduced recently.