Public hospital doctors back at work Michael Khan
Stabroek News
December 19, 2003

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Doctors returned to work at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) yesterday after reporting sick for two days.

Services at several clinics in the city hospital, which were curtailed as a result of the Government Medical Officers' (GMOs) actions, have returned to normality.

A senior hospital functionary, with whom this newspaper spoke yesterday, said all services were now being provided. Stabroek News visited the hospital yesterday and witnessed evidence of renewed activity.

Meanwhile, a press release from the GPHC's management through Guyenterprise yesterday welcomed the GMOs back to work and expressed happiness that they had "recovered fully from the ailments that caused them to call in sick for two days".

The release said "the GMOs who resumed of their own accord yesterday are quite aware that management has always been available to discuss their concerns in keeping with the mutually acceptable laid down procedures."

GPHC's Chief Executive Officer Michael Khan, the release further said, thanked those consultants and heads of units and departments who stepped in to fill the breach left as a result of the doctors' absence.

The administration expressed confidence that the GMOs grievances will be addressed satisfactorily at the meeting planned for Monday, the release also said.

Some 30-odd GMOs reported sick on Tuesday, forcing management at the hospital to curtail some services and merge others.

Khan had said that the doctors' action might have been related to allowances over which they had written to management. However, he said that their action was premature as the sides were still discussing the issue.

However a source told this newspaper that at two meetings with the doctors Khan had asked them to consider negotiating directly with management without the presence of their union, the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).

The doctors had subsequently asked Khan to put his request in writing, but instead he had asked the hospital's Human Resources Director, Leslie Cadogan, to write to the doctors notifying them of the procedure to be followed if they considered industrial action.

The GMOs in their letter to management had requested timely intervention with respect to increases in several benefits including travelling, meals, housing and on-call allowances, which they saw as meagre for the hours of work they are being asked to put in.

According to informed sources the doctors are asking for a 100% hike in housing allowances from the current $20,000 to $40,000 and a raise in their meal allowance also by 100% from $500 to $1000. The doctors are also requesting that the hospital's administration sort out issues surrounding their receipt of duty-free allowances to purchase motor vehicles.