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Medical Professionals Protest 24/7 Service in Public Hospitals



Medical Professionals Protest 24/7 Service in Public Hospitals

A controversy has been brewing among medical professionals in Mauritius over the implementation of a 24/7 service in public hospitals, which was introduced on August 1, 2022.

The service aimed to improve the quality of healthcare, particularly in cases of maternal and infant mortality that often occur at night without the presence of specialists.

However, nearly two years after its implementation, the service has sparked ongoing debates and concerns among medical professionals.

The Government Medical and Dental Officers Association (GMDOA) has taken the matter to the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT), citing concerns about the long working hours faced by specialist doctors.

The main point of contention is that these specialist doctors, including gynecologists, anesthesiologists, and pediatricians, are required to work extended hours without adequate compensation.

They argued that their Scheme of Duties should be on par with those of their colleagues in other countries.

The doctors claimed that the implementation of the 24/7 service was done hastily, without adequate consultation or planning, leading to operational challenges and tensions within the medical team.

The doctors also argued that the system has not taken into account the lack of specialists, which is expected to become more pressing in the future.

Although they have signed an option form, they maintained that the report by the Pay Research Bureau (PRB) does not address the issue of night coverage, which is different from the 24/7 service.

At a recent hearing at the ERT, a specialist doctor conceded that she had not performed any interventions since being on duty under the new system. This has raised concerns about burnout among medical professionals.

The 24/7 service was introduced by the Ministry of Health to improve healthcare services following alleged cases of medical negligence.

It is worth noting that specialist doctors are also allowed to practice in the private sector, which raised concerns about their availability and commitment to public patients.

The representative of the Ministry of Health, Principal State Counsel Me Akhil Ramdahen, defended the legality of the measure, citing that doctors have already signed the option form and cannot now contest it.

However, he agreed to postpone his counter-interrogation until further documents are provided.

This first hearing at the ERT marked the beginning of a process aiming at finding a balanced approach ensuring the availability of healthcare services and professionals to respond effectively to patients’ needs.

Source: l’Express

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