ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s state sector medical practitioners who are leaving their jobs without
officially informing the Health Ministry cannot be blacklisted as stated by the Health Minister, but if they have received foreign training under a bond, they will have to pay the money spent on their training, a top health ministry official said.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Keheliya Rambukuwela told the parliament that doctors
have been given the permission to fly abroad but since they are considered administrative staff
they must get prior permission from the Prime Minister of the country to vacate their post officially.
If not, they will be considered breaching the law and blacklisted and that list will be shared to
the embassies, Rambukwella threatened.
However, two officials from the Health Ministry told EconomyNext that there is no mechanism
to blacklist doctors as such.
“And there are people who have resigned or left the service without notice. Not only doctors, some other health workers also sometimes do that and it has been happening for a long time,” Asela Gunawardena, the director general of Health Services, told EconomyNext.
“In those times we send them Violation of Probation notice and take legal actions against them.”
Doctors who have been provided with foreign training are supposed to serve the country for a number of specified years agreed before their foreign training. For one year of foreign training, they must serve four years in government hospitals, officials say.
“And if they went for a one year they are obligated to serve for four years and for each additional year of foreign training another 4 years will be added to the service and if they break it, that spent amount plus interest and other charges must be paid back,” Gunawardena said.
He estimates the foreign training to be anywhere around 2.8-3 million rupees.
Minister Rambukuwela was not available for a comment if he is contemplating new laws to blacklist doctors.Sri Lanka has also reduced the retirement age of the doctors from 65-years to 60. Officials expect to see at least 250-300 doctors retiring when it goes into effect on January 1. However, a finance ministry official said top government authorities have agreed to increase the amended age back to 63. (Colombo/Dec03/2022)