President of the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association (JMDA) Dr Dane Miller is rebuffing suggestions by the head of the South East Regional Health Authority (SEHRA) that rotating staff would alleviate the present "wrecking" of the medical fraternity.
In an article published in The Gleaner on Saturday, SERHA Chairman Lyttleton Shirley was quoted as saying overtime work and sessional duties were "wrecking" the island's nurses and doctors.
Miller, however, explained in a subsequent letter to The Gleaner that in addition to the long hours that doctors and nurses have to work, the problem is compounded by other factors within the system.
"It is an open secret, and has been for many years in many countries, even developed ones, that entry into health-care professions will require long hours at work," he said. "In our Jamaican situation, this is compounded by the fact that Jamaica fails to retain doctors and nurses at an alarming rate, putting those who choose to stay and remain in the service of our country under further stress in an underequipped, understaffed working environment," he said.
"When one's environment is poor by most standards, and more often than not the most basic of equipment needed for the delivery of health care is not available, the quality of health care that can be delivered will be affected," he further stated in the letter.
Miller also noted that rotating staff would not solve the problem until specific issues are addressed within the system.
"There are a number of compounding factors which affect health-care delivery in Jamaica which are not going to be solved by only adjusting staff levels and methods of rotation of staff, nor will the flooding of the health system with new staff from regions and cultures foreign to our own, in ill-equipped institutions, present a solution to the problem facing us," said Miller.