All expatriate staff working in Thaa Atoll Hospital on the island of Veymandoo in Thaa Atoll have resigned following a strike over visa and financial issues with the Health Corporation.
Assistant Manager and spokesperson for Thaa Atoll Hospital, Midhath Naseer, told Minivan News that the hospital’s doctors had submitted their resignations, which were accepted on Sunday.
“On Sunday there was no doctor at the hospital, but the next day at 12:00pm we replaced all the doctors by bringing them in from Laamu Atoll and nearby islands. They have started working and the hospital is fully functioning,’’ Midhath said. “We arranged it so that any patient with a critical condition could receive services.”
Midhath said the major issue was that the expat doctors’ visas were not renewed before they expired, which made it difficult for them to return to their home countries in urgent cases.
‘’One of the doctors apologised to us and withdrew the resignation,’’ he said, adding that the doctor had now rejoined Thaa Atoll Hospital.
He said the expat doctors and nurses who resigned had also complained about being included in the pension scheme, which lowered their wages.
Atoll Councilor Abdulla Shareef told Minvan News that the resigned doctors and nurses were still on the island and that he did not know when they would depart.
‘’They met us recently, but since the Health Corporation has accused the Atoll Council of politicising this issue after we met with them, we are not involved in this anymore,’’ Shareef said. ‘’But the council thinks that we being the Atoll Councilors have the authority to meet with them anytime they request.’’
Shareef said that he did not have any official information about the resignations.
The doctors and nursing staff working at the hospital – which is almost entirely staffed by expatriates – declared themselves on strike on Sunday, and met with the atoll council to discuss their issues.
Haveeru reported that head of the Atoll Council, Shareef, had told the paper that the Health Corporation was counting staff as having used their vacation days despite staff waiting in the Maldives for their visas to be renewed.
Doctors and nurses told the council that in some cases their vacation days were all but spent by the time they actually 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.
Meanwhile, an Indian gynecologist working at the Hoarafushi Health Centre in Haa Alifu Atoll has declared that she will “never come back to the Maldives” after two masked islanders attacked and gagged her on Monday night.
“They broke in to my room with their faces covered, holding knives, and they tried to attack me,” the doctor told Minivan News yesterday. “I could only see their eyes. It was like the worst nightmare I have ever seen.”