The Ministry of Health and Wellness takes note of the article in the Sunday Gleaner dated July 12, 2020 with the title “No work for doctors amid public health crisis – Hospitals reportedly not employing medical professionals due to budgetary constraints caused by COVID-19”. The Ministry, in the first instance, wishes to advise that there is no fiscal restriction in filling the number of posts that are currently established within the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) for doctors that are assigned to hospitals and health clinics.
The employment of medical doctors is based on a recruitment and contracting process that seeks to identify the needs of the health facilities based on vacancies that are created by resignations, study leave, secondments and other forms of HR transactions that occur within the public health sector.
The Ministry understands that there are delays in some facilities in the contracting of some doctors. This is due to administrative arrangements that are to be finalized before contracts can be issued. The Ministry further understands that the vast majority of doctors that are to be offered contracts have started their assignment and are participating in the clinical programmes in the health facilities across the island.
It is to be noted that after internships many doctors are required to go through the Government’s Senior House Officer (SHO) programme for 12 months. This is required to complete post graduate training at the University of the West Indies or to be employed as a Medical Officer in the public health system. It is to be noted that not all SHOs transition to medical officers in the public health system and are required to interview for positions that are available.
In the major Health Region i.e. South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) a total of 92 doctors completed SHO on June 30, 2020. A pool of these doctors were interviewed for Medical Doctors positions and to date, approval has been given for 24 of these individuals to assume duties on or before Tuesday, July 14, 2020 on a replacement basis.
A total of 86 Medical Interns have been employed in SERHA as at July 6, 2020, based on a listing received from the Ministry of Health & Wellness.
The Ministry wishes to assure the public that the full cadre of clinical staff at all facilities are being maintained during the period of the pandemic and that all efforts are being made to ensure that the Health Regions and the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) are provided with sufficient resources to respond to the needs of the health system.
In this regard of the total J$3.9B that has been spent on COVID by the Ministry, to date J$1.08B or 27% has been expended by the Regions and the UHWI for the operations of hospitals, health centres and other public health programmes to include contact tracing, community engagement and public education.