JIS News

Junior doctors will receive a 22 per cent increase in wages over the next two years, in keeping with the 2006/08 Heads of Agreement, which was signed today (Sept. 28) between the government and the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association (JMDA).
Under the terms of the agreement, which was signed at the National Heroes Circle offices of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, junior doctors will, for the first time, be permitted to have private practices outside of their rostered duty hours.
“One of the situations that will allow us to deal with this in an effective way is through a monitoring mechanism, which will be established jointly between the JMDA and the Ministry of Health, and that this is reviewed twice a year,” said Dr. Grace Allen-Young, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
She continued by saying that, “we want to indicate that what it now means is that both so called junior doctors and the consultants will have the opportunity to practice and invite patients to attend their practices”.
Dr. Allen-Young noted however, that “we expect the association (JMDA) to help us with this monitoring of the performance because we will not expect that anyone, who is rostered to be on duty to be elsewhere. We do anticipate that a level of openness and fairness is adopted by all concerned, so that our patients will receive adequate care and attention by staff”.
Dr. Myrton Smith, president of the JMDA, said he was pleased that junior doctors would be allowed to have private practices. ” For as long as I have been a doctor, we have been agitating for the right to exercise our art and our craft in our own free time, and this is the first time that we are going to be allowed to do so. For us, that represents a major victory,” he stated.
As part of the wage settlement, the junior medical doctors will also receive an increase in their emergency duty allowance and incentive payments.
According to Dr. Smith, “the emergency duty allowance, which is the rate that we are paid for work done in our overtime hours, has been .below time and for the first time and on a stage basis, we see where those rates will be increased to be in excess of time or your regular hourly rates”.
In terms of the incentive allowance, he indicated that this “will be modified so as the more experienced and higher up you go in terms of grade, the greater your incentive allowance would be”.
State Minister for Finance and Planning, Fitz Jackson said he was pleased with the manner of the negotiations between the government and the JMDA.
“The medical doctors represent a significant area of the health service and being able to bring these negotiations or discussions to a conclusion is indeed a very welcome one. I am personally encouraged by the manner in which the discussions and negotiations took place between the Ministry of Finance and Planning and the JMDA,” said the Minister.

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