For some years now the doctors in this
country have been at war with the minister of Health both of them, Jeffrey and
now Ramsammy, concerning the constitution of our Medical Council.
The background to this goes back to 1998
when Minister of Health, Jeffrey, refused to accept the 6 names which were
submitted to him by the Medical Association, as he was required to do by law.
At that time, the law stipulated that
the Medical Council would constitute the Chief Medical Officer and six medical
practitioners after the minister consulted with the Medical Association or
Associations who would nominate the members to the Medical Council.
In March 1998 the Guyana Medical Association
according to this law, submitted six names to Minister Jeffrey, but the Minister
was not comfortable with two of the names and he rejected them.
The Guyana Medical Association refused
to withdraw the two names and the matter ended up in the courts.
In the court the then Chief Justice ruled
that since no adequate reasons were given by the Minister, the names Ramsahoye
and Hanoman should not have been rejected by Jeffrey from the list submitted by
the Medical Association.
In addition her Honour ruled that the
names of Drs. Sattaur and Imhoff, which were submitted by Minister Jeffrey, are
the ones that should be rejected. Thereby establishing clearly that
consultation did not mean, having the last say in the matter, as the genius
Jeffrey, was doing.
Minister Jeffrey in an effort to thwart
the court's ruling, and notwithstanding being cited for contempt by the court,
proceeded to parliament in 1999 to change the legislative mechanism by which
the Medical Council shall be appointed.
This new legislation required that all
the medical practitioners in the country hold an election and nominate the
necessary 6 names, these, along with a nominee from the medical school and a
lay person appointed by the president, shall constitute our Medical Council.
The Minister told us at that time, that
this was a much fairer, more democratic, more transparent way to establish a
Before passing judgement, let us analyse
what the Medical Council does, what its purpose is supposed to be, and how it
should function in the public's interest.
The Medical Council in this country is
supposed, to monitor our doctors' performance, to accept complaints from the
public against them in the very likely event of them maiming any member of our
public through malpractice or carelessness, the council accesses practitioners
on an ongoing basis by setting examinations etc. for them, it also registers
all practitioners after examining their qualifications, and deal with
disciplinary matters concerning lapses by them. It decides who are, and who are
not specialists, according to the criteria that were set many years ago.
In researching this commentary I found
one provision in the process which militates against the system, all complaints
to the medical council are required to be catalogued and recorded in writing,
very few of our citizens are capable of doing so. I think that this should
change. Too many persons hurt by the system are unable to represent their
situation in writing. The Medical Council should therefore afford the public,
the facility, of helping them through private hearings to record their
grievances, in the proper form, in the interest of our citizens.
In view of all of this, one is
therefore led to the inevitable conclusion, that our Medical Council should
comprise our most qualified, respected and fearless doctors who will deal with
infractions, malpractice, unprofessional conduct [interfering with their female
patients for example] etc, as it applies to any member of the public who have
been maimed, by mistakes and or incompetence by any Doctor.
All of this is very straight forward up
to this point, and the Minister of Health and the Medical Association ought not
to be at loggerheads, if indeed they wanted the same thing, i.e. an improvement
in the way our Doctors handle and treat our people, with courtesy, with the
highest level of professionalism and if they injure someone, then the matter
can be taken to an impartial, fair, vibrant Medical Council, by the aggrieved
citizen, for action.
Most of the new Doctors in this country
work for the Government, a substantial amount of them from our own University
of Guyana, I have concluded, given the evidence I have, that it is fair to say,
that most complaints to the Medical Council about wrong doing by doctors, are brought
against this group who work in our government facilities, the Public Hospitals,
Medical Centres, etc.
It is therefore not in the interest of
the public to have the Medical Council comprise and be controlled by
substantial numbers of these poorly trained Government doctors who will in fact
end up, as a group, policing themselves and defending themselves from an
aggrieved public, supported by their boss the Minister of Health.
So Minister Jeffrey's and now Minister
Ramsammy's efforts, take on a different, more sinister aspect, this may not
have anything at all to do with better, fairer elections of members to the
Medical Council, but an attempt to fill the Medical Council with the type of
Doctors who will not, and can not, carry out the functions of the council in
the interest of the public. And more importantly award specialist status to
poorly qualified doctors, which is also certainly not in the interest of the
In this country for example, Government
employed lawyers are not allowed to be members of the Bar association. The
reason is simple; the lawyers do not want the government employed lawyers to
control their body, since it is not in their interest to have it so, it can
politise the bar association.
Why then, should we allow the
Government Doctors, who are far more likely to maim and hurt our public, to be
in control of our Medical Council, leaving the people of this country aggrieved
by this situation, without recourse?
Fellow Guyanese, we must open our eyes,
things are not always what they seem. I have seen this phenomena before in the
way minister Nagamootoo wanted to control our Broadcast Authority, so I am
familiar with it.
Poorly trained and careless doctors
learning their trade at the expense of an unsuspecting public, of any race, is
dangerous. And I for one, demand that Jeffrey and Ramsammy stay out of the
Medical Council's affairs.