EDITORIAL: Govt must explain reason for delay
WHY HAS THERE been a delay in publishing the lists of doctors and specialists registered to practise medicine in Barbados at the end of April as required by law?
The Medical Profession Act, 2011-1 section 16, 4 (a) stipulates that a list of all doctors and the Specialist Register shall be published by April 30 of each year in the Official Gazette. Yet, to date, this has not been done, and Government has not outlined the reasons for the delay.
We know the Barbados Medical Council, which is charged under the act to oversee the registration process of the doctors and applications to the specialists’ register, has completed its work. Chairman Sir Errol Walrond confirmed this. But he, too, is puzzled about the delay.
“As chairman of the council I have not been told anything, but it is my understanding that some officers in the Ministry of Health recalled the list.
I haven’t been told for what reason,” Sir Errol said in a recent interview.
The Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP) doesn’t know either and having sent a letter to Minister of Health John Boyce on June 3 expressing its outrage at the situation, is still no wiser. Government continues to maintain a stony silence on this matter. Why?
What is the issue with these lists that Government has not seen it fit to comply with the law and publish them?
And what about the public, the supposed beneficiaries of this move to ensure all doctors practising in Barbados are up to date, qualified and experienced to do the specialities they charge for? Doesn’t the Government recognize they have a responsibility to let you know what has gone wrong and how it will be remedied?
We are concerned about the lack of transparency in how this matter has been handled.
The new Medical Profession Act, which came into force last June, sets out two integral requirements: proof by doctors that they are keeping up to date with the latest medical knowledge; and the compiling of two registers – one for doctors in general practice, the other for specialists, who have to apply to be listed.
Therefore, doctors had to provide evidence that they had complied with the Continuing Professional Education (CPE) assessment scheme that awards credits for various activities that would have contributed to furthering their education.
Those who worked as specialists had to apply for this designation by providing documentation and, if need be, have accredited specialists vouch for their expertise.
The fact that by the Medical Council’s December 1, 2012 deadline at least 80 per cent of the 583 doctors registered to practice in 2012 had applied for CPE credits and had their applications processed by January 15 this year demonstrates that most of them embraced the idea for their betterment and that of their patients.
But after that exercise, members of the public are no wiser about which doctor has taken the time to keep current or is qualified to work as a specialist.
Without a reasonable explanation as to why the list has not been published, the whole exercise comes over as a farce.