Wed | Aug 12, 2020

UHWI blamed for overhiring docs

Published:Tuesday | July 14, 2020 | 12:00 AMDanae Hyman/Staff Reporter
Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health and wellness.

Minister of Health & Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton has blamed a hiring binge by the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) for the termination of employment of some new doctors at the Papine, St Andrew, institution.

He has accused UHWI’s management of hiring twice the numbers that are allowed in the establishment.

In a letter issued to hospital staff, UHWI’s Department of Surgery said that “financial constraints induced by COVID-19, paired with the decision of The University of the West Indies to defer May/June 2020 DM examinations, have forced a change in the process of resident intake”.

The correspondence said further that subsequent to June 9, “the committee decided that employment contracts for the chief residents, cleared for final exams and have been assessed by their supervisors having completed their training, will not be renewed by the UHWI”.

The letter advised the affected practitioners to seek jobs elsewhere.

However, speaking with The Gleaner on Monday evening, Tufton said based on reports he had received, the UHWI operates differently than other hospitals and that the unemployment crisis was not replicated across the public health system.

“They have an establishment, for example, to hire 10 of a particular doctor and they hire 20.

In terms of the rest of the public health system, the information I have is that they have interviewed persons but that doesn’t mean that everybody interviewed is going to get a job, and that has been part of the challenge,” Tufton said.

However, a doctor at the Bustamante Hospital for Children shared a letter with The Sunday Gleaner advising that that institution, too, could no longer accommodate her, days after she took up a post there.

Tufton has denied that budgetary constraints have sparked the hiring shortfall, citing an increase in the number of trained medical officers and a decline in the staff turnover for reduced availability of posts in the public health system.

“What we have now is a case of training more, which has resulted in a higher demand, particularly because persons are not migrating as much, maybe because of COVID this year and less turnover meaning less demand for the current establishment, both the established post and the existing contractual post. That results in some persons not being offered positions and there’s no direct correlation or relationship between training and being offered a position in the public sector,” the health minister said.

Tufton is scheduled to meet with the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association today.