An estimated 100 junior doctors will be “cut” from public hospitals this year after they receive performance evaluations, according to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.
The revelation comes one day after junior doctors threatened to take industrial action over changes to their working conditions.
In an interview with Eyewitness News yesterday, Dr. Sands explained that the uproar is a direct result of changes set to be implemented over the next few months.
“We’ve been looking at the professional development and the advancement of young physicians, and we recognized that what we have done historically, has not been in the best interest either in their professional development or the needs of the country,” Dr. Sands explained.
The ministry’s solution – a performance evaluation for senior house officers (SHO) who have been, as Dr. Sands described, “camping out” in public hospitals for up to 20 years.
According to the minister, heads of all medical departments will rank SHO performances, which will lead to more than 100 being cut from the service.
Sands explained that there has been an explosion in the SHOs regarding junior doctors, with well over 200 “trapped” in the public system for years, leaving a lack of accommodation for new medical interns.
“The number of SHO’s is growing by about 15 per cent per year,” he explained.
As a result, he said his ministry is actively preparing a new Office of Medical Staff Development, for junior doctors to show their progression of specialization, which will open July 1.
The new office, he said, will mandate that every junior physician further their studies instead of remaining in the role of senior house officer.
“Physicians will have a total period of three years to either be enrolled in a specialty training program or to undergo a general course of study prior to being deployed, then having to pass a licensed exam to go into independent practice,” he explained.
“We’ve mandated that every physician be on an upwardly mobile track of self-development to further their studies, so that they can reach a point of independent private practices, as opposed to spending five to 10 years in that role of senior house officer.”
Dr. Sands said he along with the doctor’s union, were supposed to meet with the officers after hearing word of a demonstration. That meeting, he said, was postponed until further notice.