UG medical school in crisis again
Specialist tutors withdraw services
Final exams in jeopardy

Stabroek News
July 15, 2001

Medical specialists have withdrawn their services from the Medical School programme because of decisions taken by the school, and students of the school are demanding immediate action by the university administration.

Some 24 doctors including Madan Rambarran, P. Santoshi, A. Doobay, Bhiro Harry and M.Y. Bacchus have withdrawn their association and participation in the medical school programme affecting all of the clinical departments of study.

The doctors a year ago sought to meet the University of Guyana's (UG) administration to have the issues resolved and in a letter to Vice-Chancellor, Dr James Rose, recently, said resolution of these issues was crucial for the medical school to consolidate the gains it had made and to position itself as a premier medical school.

The first issue, which the doctors cited in their letter, had to do with the appointment of a medical director for the school. The doctors said that the unanimous recommendation of the medical school staff (both full and part time) had been disregarded. The doctors said that the rules were being exploited and 80 per cent of the teaching staff had been excluded from the decision-making process on the appointment of the medical director.

"It would be instructive to review the capricious and arbitrary appointments made by the medical director immediately after his suspect appointment," the doctors told Dr Rose. The letter reminded Dr Rose that he had given an undertaking to direct a review of the rules governing the participation of part-time staff in the decision-making process with a view to finding ways to allow such participation.

"To date there has been no progress," the doctors told Dr Rose in the letter.

The other burning issue for the 24 doctors was what they dubbed as the illegal and underhand manner by which special arrangements called examinations had been made to pass three students who had failed the annual exams last year.

"Perhaps for the first time in the history of the university, one of these students was made to redo an examination she had already passed so that her grades could be jacked up..." the doctors said. They further said that despite the fact that the "examinations" breached all the rules and regulations of the university and would serve to undermine the credibility of the university, the academic board had ratified them.

The doctors said they were aware that efforts were underway to project the principal tutors as being derelict in their responsibilities to prepare annual examinations, which had been due to start on June 4. They said that they had been making arrangements, part of which was the identification and engagement of external examiners. However, the names submitted to the medical director, the 24 doctors said, had been disregarded.

They said because the principal tutors were not advised of any external examiners to whom to transmit the examination questions for finalisation, it was impossible to proceed with the development of the examinations.

"In light of the above and the general trend of three or four staff of the university to manipulate the medical school on a downhill course, we wish to advise you that our association and participation in the medical school programme has become untenable and would cease with immediate effect," the doctors told Dr Rose.

Medical students have also expressed disgust at the situation at the medical school. In a statement, the students said that the university administration had failed to implement systems that adequately prepared students to become professional medical practitioners.

The students also complained that in-ward training was being denied in paediatrics, gynaecology, surgery and internal medicine rotations.

The current final year students, the statement said, had their examinations deferred three times and were still unaware of who the internal and external examiners were, what the rules governing their exams would be and whether those exams provided a true assessment of their training.

The students said they had made several attempts over the years to have the matter resolved to no avail.

As a result, the students demanded that the university administration take immediate action to ensure proper clinical training was provided to them, which met World Health Organisation standards. They also want final year students to have their examinations conducted by suitably qualified examiners in time for graduation in November and that the medical school situation with the disgruntled doctors be resolved.