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Docs to lose Gate if they refuse public work

Published: 
Friday, August 10, 2018
Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh, left, and National Security Minister Stuart Young discuss notes during yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing. PICTURE NICOLE DRAYTON

Cabinet yesterday took a decision that all house officers who refuse to take up employment in the public health care system will have their Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses programme (Gate) loans pulled. The house officers will also be asked to repay the Government for their medical studies.

The announcement was made by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh at yesterday’s post Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Deyalsingh had said Regional Health Authorities have been experiencing problems recruiting doctors to fill 11 speciality areas for the past year, adding local doctor want to work only at either the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, San Fernando General Hospital or Port-of-Spain General Hospital rather than the rural communities. In light of this issue, Deyalsingh said Government had to hunt for 250 specialised Cuban doctors in 11 fields. The contract for the Cubans doctors will be three years with an option to renew for a fourth.

Yesterday, Deyalsingh said Cabinet had made a decision it believed could possibly help alleviate the problem.

“I was directed by Cabinet today that house officers will now be offered employment in the public health system and where they chose not to take up those offers, we will call in their Gate loans and they will be asked to pay back the taxpayer all the monies that the taxpayer paid for them to study medicine,” Deyalsingh said.

Deyalsingh said he will ensure that this decision is carried out.

He said a team will also be sent to Cuba from August 26 to September 1 to recruit the specialised doctors.

Asked if the Medical Board of T&T has to approve the Cuban doctors coming here to work, Deyalsingh said registration is being handled by the board and they have their cooperation. He said to source the doctors, his ministry would have to deal directly with Cuba’s health ministry.

“This going back to Cuba is predicated on an agreement that we have signed with Cuba in April of this year. Every two to three years this country-to-country agreement comes up for renewal.”

On what would be the budget for the Cuban doctors, Deyalsingh said this would depend on how many are recruited.

“There is a line item at the Ministry of Health to pay for this,” he said.

In October 2010, Deyalsingh said the UNC initially cancelled the recruitment of Cuban doctors to T&T and had to rescind that decision to their embarrassment in March 2011.

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