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SL short of 800 specialist docs.

SL short of 800 specialist docs.

15 Nov 2023 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

  • 125 freshly-trained returnees from overseas planning to fly again 

The shortage of medical specialists, which was around 400 in the first few months of this year (2023), has now increased to approximately 800, The Daily Morning learns.

Speaking to The Daily Morning, sources within the Ministry of Health stated that there were 2,350 medical specialists serving in Government hospitals islandwide as of January 2023. By the end of the first quarter of the year, the sources said that an initial shortage of around 400 medical specialists had emerged in the country due to several factors such as medical specialists leaving the country, and joining the private sector and universities.

“By this month (November), about 250 medical professionals who have undergone the specialist training in foreign countries returned to the country. Since the health sector's issues have not yet been resolved, about 50% of them are planning to migrate again. With all these reasons, there are about 800 vacancies for medical specialists in the country at present. If the Government's decision to reduce the medical specialists' retirement age to 60 years will be implemented, another 275 medical specialists will retire by the end of this year.”

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal (CA) is to deliver its decision with regard to the application filed by 176 medical specialists seeking a writ order against the Government's decision to reduce their retirement age from 63 years to 60 years, on 17 November. During the hearing of the case, the Ministry had, in June, 2023, given an undertaking that medical professionals' retirement age would be 63 years, subject to the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers.

While several leading Government hospitals are seeing a significant shortage of medical professionals including medical specialists at present, the Ministry has recently decided to recall retired medical professionals to the service on a contract basis. However, the Government has been accused by several parties of not resolving the issues faced by medical professionals that have led to them leaving the country in large numbers. 

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