Pardon me, GMOA doctors, I am a bit confused

Crème de la crème at crossroads

My dear doctors,

Sunday Times

I thought I must write to you when I heard that you are fighting amongst yourselves over a medical college in Malabe and about who should be recognised as doctors – and who shouldn’t be. From what we have heard so far, all you seem to be doing is calling each other names and getting nowhere!

We are being told that your Council had decided that this medical college should not be recognised – after many years and after hundreds of students have passed through its doors. However, all hell broke loose when the courts said the Council had got it wrong because it had no power to say so anyway.

Now, GMOA doctors are fighting with the medical college and students are on the streets getting tear gassed. This is why Maithri put Lucky in charge of Highways and Higher Education, so he could supervise our streets and students at the same time – maybe he should be in charge of the Police too!

Pardon me, GMOA doctors, I am a bit confused about your arguments – and that maybe because I am not intelligent enough to get a high ‘Z score’ as you did. But, it does seem as if you think that this ‘Z score’ should determine someone’s fate and that if it is low, you are doomed for the rest of your life.

GMOA doctors, why do you object to smart students, who have just failed to make it to a university, trying to become a doctor by spending their own money? And let us be honest, you are not the crème de la crème either because most of you wouldn’t make it to university if not for the ‘district basis’!

Of course we agree with the argument about the need to maintain standards of training, because doctors deal with peoples’ lives. But if it is really about that, GMOA doctors, are you saying that there is enough staff for training in the state medical schools in Anuradhapura, Batticaloa or even Jaffna?

If it is all about standards, GMOA doctors, why didn’t we hear the same protests when the Kotelawela school got their degree recognised without even having a teaching hospital of their own? Or, is it because it was Gota’s brainchild and in the ‘R’ era you didn’t dare to get into his bad books?

And, if it is all about standards, GMOA doctors, why did you object when the Malabe students were to be given access to government hospitals so they could overcome deficits in their training? It is no wonder that some people call you the ‘JMOA’ and not the GMOA, where the ‘J’ stands for ‘Jealous’!

Remember, GMOA doctors, when you say that you are battling for the safety and welfare of ‘poor’ patients and at the same time stage strikes at the drop of a hat, whether it is to get your vehicle permits or even to get your children admitted to prestigious schools, you are not very convincing.

It is intriguing, GMOA doctors, that you now seek the support of the rathu sahodarayas and Mahinda maama’s blue boys. In fact, it was Mahinda maama who set up this school in Malabe, giving loans and scholarships! Do you really believe that going behind politicians is the best way forward?

As for the doctors in the Council, you seem to have got it wrong too. The courts said that you approved the Kotelawela school without batting an eyelid but imposed strict conditions on the Malabe school. I thought the purpose of having your Council was to ensure standards, not double standards!

Of course, double standards are nothing new to Carlo, the chief of your Council. Thirty years ago, he was against private medical colleges of any kind on principle – and there is nothing wrong with that. But, during Mahinda maama’s time, he was all for them and now he has changed his mind again!

Doctors in the Council, you too need to get your act together. Everyone agrees that it is you – and you alone – who should decide on standards for doctors but you haven’t had the courage to question the standards in some state medical schools which lack staff. So it looks as if you are also not being fair.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the doctors at Malabe are not lily-white either. They have enrolled two batches of students in some years, so it is fair to ask whether they are motivated by profit alone. Also, they could have operated at least part of their hospital free, so it would have attracted enough patients.

So, everyone appears to have blundered along the way- and the futures of hundreds of students at the Malabe school are at stake through no fault of their own. Sadly, doctors who are supposed to be caring and compassionate seem to be the most inconsiderate of all, especially towards their own kind!

We hope that laws are changed to give your Council the powers to regulate medical schools and that those standards will apply not only to the Malabe school but to others as well. Surely, as doctors you should be able to do this if necessary in court, without resorting to ugly strikes, threats and protests?

Maithri has said that he will provide a solution that will satisfy everyone. I am not holding my breath for that. He couldn’t get the bond scam probed properly. Some MPs in his own party defy him openly. So, his chances of cleaning up this mess are as good as the GMOA doctors giving up private practice!

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha
PS: Thirty years ago when there was another private medical college, the GMOA was against that too. Joining them at that time was the trade union of dental surgeons. It was led by a chap named Rajitha. We all know where he is now and what his views are. So, there is still some hope for a chap named Padeniya: in the fullness of time, he might become our Health Minister and sing a different tune!
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