Foreign doctors and nurses working at Thaa Atoll Hospital on Veymandoo in Thaa Atoll have declared themselves on strike over visa issues they say are preventing them from leaving the country.
Head of Thaa Atoll Hospital, Midhath Nasir, told Minivan News that expat doctors and nurses have complained that their visas have not been renewed accordingly and that they have had difficulties in leaving the country in emergency situations.
“All the expat doctors and nurses have stopped work and all the patients that came today had to go home without receiving any services,” Nasir said, but added that there were no patients currently admitted to the hospital in a critical condition.
A technician working in the laboratory of the hospital recently needed to urgently return to his home country, Nasir said, but was unable to do so because of the visa renewal issue.
“His visa was not renewed and because he had an expired visa, he could not make there on time,” Nasir said.
Nasir said that he had requested the doctors and nurses make a list of issues and hand it over to him so that he could forward it to the Health Corporation.
“I do not know what other issues they have, after I get the list I will know,” he said. “All the nurses and doctors currently working in the hospital are expats.”
Minivan News requested a contact number for one of the striking staff, but Nasir said he did not have the contact number of any doctor or nurse working at the hospital.
Meanwhile local newspaper Haveeru reported that more than 25 expats working at the hospital had met with the atoll council and complained about their issues.
The paper reported that head of the Atoll Council, Abdulla Shareef, had told the paper that the Health Corporation was counting staff vacation days in contradiction to how their contracts required the days to be counted, as the days staff had spend in the Maldives waiting for their visas to be renewed were being deducted from their vacation allowance.
Doctors and nurses told the council that in some cases their vacation days were all but over by the time they reached their home country.
Shareef also told the paper that the hospital was using expired medicines imported during 2004 tsunami, and that doctors were being blamed for not having enough medicine in the hospital.