The large numbers of A/L students eligible to study medicine but not admitted to the state medical colleges are potential doctors but denied the opportunity.
There is an immediate need for more doctors in Sri Lanka. The GMOA claims it acts in the interest of the patients in the country. It must then promote the numbers of competent doctors in the country. The cost to the state (funded by the tax collections) for producing one doctor is reported to be around Rs.20 million.
State medical colleges
The resources of the country were destroyed by a 30-year civil war. Not all eligible A/L passed students are admitted to state medical colleges due to financial constraints of the state on construction, establishing faculties and providing facilities, teaching and support staff, medicines and operating costs of more state hospitals. Many who qualify as doctors do not serve in the state sector (even with a starting remuneration of Rs 60,000 a month) nor do they accept appointments to remote areas, while others go overseas or are in private practice. In this background if national interest takes priority, there must be public/ private sector participation to provide better medical facilities to our nation.
Sri Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) in July 2015 sent an inspection team of 10 medical specialists to report on the SAITM medical hospital. The team reported gross deficiency in the number and variety of patients at SAITM Teaching Hospital.
It appears the prime reason of GMOA for excluding SAITM is the “gross deficiency in number and variety of patients” in its Teaching Hospital in July 2015. Are we to believe that all state hospitals throughout the country where clinical training is given, have no such deficiency? If all state medical colleges provide the same numbers and variety of patients for the clinical component, why is the apportionment of marks at the examination, between theory and clinical components, left to the faculty of each medical college, instead of an apportionment common for all medical colleges throughout the country? Is it not an admission that the quality of the clinical component differs from college to college.
SAITM hospital started not long before the July inspection and given time and assistance by the state sector doctors, would it not have attracted the required number and variety of patients'? This will be accelerated as there is from recent times a non-paying section in SAITM hospital. Would it not have been in the interest of the country for their students to be afforded the facility of gaining clinical experience in state hospitals? Why does the GMOA refuse to have SAITM students in state hospitals to get their clinical training?
SAITM entrance must be on the same eligibility (not admission) criteria as for state medical colleges. Its curricula and clinical experience required must be determined and monitored by the same and independent body (unbiased) that does it for the state sector. Its students must pass the Common General Paper on equal terms with the state sector students i.e. a common playing field. Do the present union protests truly represent the views of all doctor and student union members or only of a dominant minority? A postal secret voting system (administered by the Elections Dept?) whether to strike or not, would minimize the threats of union undercover ‘hit men’.
Or is this a class struggle fostered by political unions or is it a struggle of doctors who do not wish to share the private practice cake with more of the same profession?