Sep 27, 2020 News
The Ministry of Health has issued a warning to health care workers against engaging in unauthorized protest action over risk allowance and other benefits.
According to a letter signed by the Permanent Secretary, Collette Adams that has made its way into the public, the Ministry has taken note of the unauthorised industrial actions by nurses and other medical personnel who have engaged in such activity.
The Ministry has therefore issued a warning that they will be dealt with according to the Public Service rules and regulations.
Adams noted that while several categories of healthcare workers, including nurses and Government Medical Officers, are entitled to risk allowance once they work in the infectious wards/units, the Ministry understands the need for additional remuneration for all categories of health workers who have been fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ministry issued a memo to all Regional Health Officers (RHO) to submit to their relevant accounting and personnel units a list of all members of staff who are currently considered “At Risk”. The statement followed protest action by staffers of the Linden, West Demerara and Georgetown Public Hospital.
The angry staffers had noted their frustration over the lack of risk allowance, adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and late pay.
In addition to the Ministry’s missive, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) sent out a statement expressing concern that the Guyana Public Service Union, (GPSU) instigated and coordinated protest action involving nurses and other health care workers of the Corporation on September 25, 2020 without exhausting proper industrial relations practices and procedures in accordance with the Public Utilities Undertaking and Public Health Service Act Chapter 54:01.
The administration noted that while all staff members provided noteworthy service to the public during the pandemic, health care workers from the GPHC have resorted to measures that can only aggravate the current situation and place addition challenges on our fragile public health system.
According to the statement, the hospital management noted that protecting staffers as this pandemic evolves remains a top priority.
The GPHC said that it has in the past continue to provide appropriate PPE in order to equip its staff members so they can provide safe, efficient and effective care to its patients while at the said time doing so in a safe environment.
Further, the release added that management wishes to state that it has and continues to provide risk allowance to staff members in accordance with the provisions catered for in the Public Service Circular.
“We intend to continue to provide those provisions for all workers at the GPHC, in accordance with the stipulated regulation,” the statement added.
It was stressed also that the hospital remains committed to timely and constructive engagements to consider the requests of health care workers.
The workers were warned to refrain from accepting inappropriate advice and abandoning their duties to support further illegal protest action until every avenue provided for in the relevant legislation is exhausted.
“Until such time, further protest action(s) remain illegal and may attract punitive action. At the interim, we recommend that proper industrial relations practices and procedures be observed, by all, in accordance with the Public Utilities Undertaking and Public Health Services Act and request that all health care practitioners continue to do their jobs in a professional manner; and await the provisions contained within the 2020 National Budget.”
Additionally, GPHC noted that the increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases, there is heightened concern among health care workers.
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