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posted 22 May 2017, 12:28 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 22 May 2017, 12:51 ]
The following statement, dated 2017/05/22, was issued by the National Workers Union.

The National Workers Union (NWU) condemns the disrespectful and contemptuous way the Ministry of Health has organised its so-called “consultations” on the Welch report which was set up in November 2015 to review the health care system.

The Welch Committee was set up to:

i.To audit the current manner of operation of the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs) and its ability to provide quality health care.

ii. To rationalise the system(s) and framework governing doctors who pursue private practice while employed in a public institution.

The report dealing with the RHAs was submitted on August 29th 2016. Up to today the full report has not been published. The Ministry of Health’s website has published thirty eight recommendations from the report, but without being aware of the reasoning behind the recommendations, it is exceedingly difficult to pronounce one way or the other on the recommendations, which makes the consultations nothing but a farce.

None of the recommendations deal with the horrendous industrial relations environment that plagues the health sector and which if not resolved will militate against any upgrade in the quality of health care available to the population.

None of the recommendations deal with the ridiculous dual system of job appointments (Board-approved and cabinet-approved) which is the doorway to nepotism in hiring practices at all levels and which inflict political hacks with no expertise in leading management positions. This is the foundation of the short term contract system which sees workers who have been employed for fifteen years still on short term one year and two year contacts. Some workers are on month to month contracts.

As the National Workers Union stated in its memorandum to the Welch committee dated 2016/02/16 (which may be downloaded at the the bottom of this page): “... some categories of permanent staff that are offered promotions are told that they have to resign their positions and go on short term contracts to accept the promotion. This horrendous contract system affects both workers with professional qualifications and those without. Short term contract workers obviously suffer anxiety over their job security, are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing mortgage and other loans and credit facilities.

They cannot properly plan the future of their families or make significant investments and they are not entitled to be members of the Regional Health Authorities’ Pension Plan. Even if they eventually become “permanent” and eligible to join the Pension Plan, the service they had before they became permanent would not be counted as service in the plan.”

There are many other industrial relations infractions which occur and which would not be tolerated in a unionised environment. Some of them include gross manipulation of the shift system to rob workers of their entitlements, the use of performance appraisals as a tool of victimisation, the lack of urgency in filling the thousands of staff shortages. In effect, the relationship between employees and management does not reflect modern industrial relations practice, but instead is reminiscent of the master and servant relationship which is supposed to be extinct, but which survives in many non-unionised workplaces.

The Welch Report (PART1B) dealing with the issue of public sector doctors in private practice is available on the Ministry of Health’s website. The Committee was unable to agree on a unified position. The majority supporting the abolition of private practice for public health care professionals. This position is supported by the National Workers Union.

The National Workers Union urges the Ministry of Health to make the Welch Report (Part 1) available for public scrutiny so that the people who the public health system is designed to serve can make an input into the discussions based on the information gathered and the arguments put forward by the “experts”.

The National Workers Union recognises that the Welch committee is just the latest in a long line of committees that has examined the health care system including the Julien Commission of 1957, the National Advisory Council interim Report of 1978, the Toby Commission Report of 1982, the Gafoor Commission of 2006. We will not be surprised if the recommendations contained in the Welch report go the way of all flesh as has happened with the recommendations of previous reports.

Gerry Kangalee (National Education and Research Officer. Cell: 785-7637)
welch presentation (2).pub
Gerry Kangalee,
22 May 2017, 12:49