Govt alters Doctors pensionable arrangement following consultations, backlash

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Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence

Government has altered its decision to switch public doctors to the pensionable scheme following hours of consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Doctors currently employed with contracts will not be forced under the pensionable system, but will have the option of switching if they so desire.

This was the outcome of a public consultation held at the National Cultural Centre (NCC) on Monday that saw a large group of doctors in attendance.

Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence, who was present for the event, assured the doctors that the transition will not affect their current plans.

Lawrence also vowed to continue discussions with the doctors to ensure that their concerns are taken into consideration before a decision is made.

On two occasions, the Minister had to intervene in the discussions between the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Reginald Brotherson, and the doctors, because he did not provide clear answers.

Lawrence however, told the concerned medical practitioners that they would be able to decide whether they want to join the public service and the pension’s scheme at the end of their five-year contract.

She also took the opportunity to clarify with the doctors some of the benefits of joining the public service, apart from losing their gratuity benefits.

The doctors raised concerns about the need to have consultations before implementing changes that will ultimately affect their livelihoods.

They spoke about a circular which was issued on February 13, which indicated that they would have been placed in the pension scheme in the coming months.

The affected doctors also raised concerns about the insufficient  $1,800 which they are being paid for on-call duties, with no overtime or time and a half pay.

Leader of the Opposition Dr Bharat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo had said that by forcing doctors to accept the pensionable establishment, doctors will exit the public service and seek greener pastures, the consequences of which would see the health sector being ‘hemorrhaged’.

In a released statement on Saturday, Jagdeo had reiterated his Party’s position for Government to halt its decision to ‘highhandedly’ place doctors within the public sector unto the pensionable scheme.

The party had expressed solidarity with the members of the medical profession who have, since news broke of government’s agenda, publicly articulated their concerns and reservations about the issue at hand.

The government made a commitment to meet with the doctors at another date, to discuss the finer details of the arrangement to have them transitioned to the pensionable scheme, should they choose to go that route.

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