Industrial action at the GHPC Editorial
Guyana Chronicle
December 19, 2003

Related Links: Articles on GPHC
Letters Menu Archival Menu

THE industrial protest action taken by a number of General Medical Officers (GMOs) at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GHPC) ended yesterday.

According to a release by the hospital's management, that administration "is happy that the GMOs themselves have recovered fully from the ailment that caused them all to call in sick for two days."

A primary cause in this recent sickout is the time factor - the approaching end of year "when a lot of decisions" are made.

Because the medical doctors are regarded as the most critical of "essential services" personnel, it would be disrespectful for anyone to lump them with other categories of health workers, who are also public service people, whenever negotiations over pay scales, allowances, benefits and working conditions must be considered and agreed upon collectively.

This is precisely the reality.

While we welcome without reservations the GMOs' plan to resume duties, it must be recalled that in 2001 GHPC workers took similar protest action that culminated in a strike after certain forces in the Guyanese society thought it would further weaken the administration and alienate the sick, injured and vulnerable among our people.

Whether this system is recognized or not, the established procedures at the country's leading medical institution is based on a set of principles whereby "everyone has his/her assignment within the medical and professional healthcare chain."

In situations where a hospice delivery caters for the provision of general medicine, standards are quite high - and extremely and rightly so. Now, and as the case has been with GHPC for almost a decade now, the combination of a general medicine healthcare and teaching for higher medical proficiency standards, as far as GMOs are concerned, carry with them even more onerous responsibilities.

Many or the vast majority of the mainly University of Guyana-educated doctors are expected to participate in and learn from specialist medical procedures in surgery and post-surgery situations. This involves the operation of various medical appliances and devices where the format is graphed and worked out based on a schedule, day-to-day and week-to-week.

Perhaps it is this factor, together with reports of relatives of sick patients taking them from the GHPC to private institutions or home, that influenced the GMOs to restart the dialogue and elaborate, through their representatives, whatever proposals and recommendations management can discuss sensibly.

The GMOs have a "delicate" relationship both with the GHPC and with the public. There is a bureaucracy that has moved from the initial cost recovery stage to where things are presently.

Nobody can "replace" qualified doctors - except a detachment of likewise or more qualified doctors conversant in the Creole English methods of communicating with patients. Whoever thinks otherwise can think again!