500 doctors gather at anti-P4P rally
About 500 rural doctors and medical workers on Wednesday rallied in front of the Public Health Ministry, demanding that Health Minister Pradit Sintawanarong scrap his brainchild pay-for-performance (P4P) scheme.
- Published: 24/04/2013 at 05:22 PM
- Newspaper section: breakingnews
The group -- led by Rural Doctors Society (RDS) president Kriangsak Watcharanukulkiat, Arak Wongworachart, director of Sichon Hospital in Nakhon Si Thammarat and Saree Ongsomwang, secretary of the Foundation for Consumers – gathered outside Office of the Permanent Secretary for Public Health where Dr Pradit was attending a meeting with senior ministry officials.
The group’s leaders took turns using loudhailers to criticise Dr Pradit. They issued a statement calling on Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra to remove him from the portfolio, cancel performance-based evaluations and revert to the previous system.
About 150 police in uniform and plainclothes were deployed to ensure peace during the protest.
The P4P scheme took effect on April 1. It halves hardship allowances, while allocating doctors' additional allowances based on individual performance. The original hardship allowance was based on each doctor's degree of isolation and working conditions.
The group says the new system cuts pay for rural doctors and will lead to a mass exodus of medical professionals in remote areas. The ministry has argued that the P4P system is a much fairer way to award bonuses than the old system of paying hardship allowances in a lump sum.
In the afternoon after the meeting, the public health minister said he invited the protesters’ representatives for a talk in a bid to iron out their differences.
The group, however, insisted that they would not negotiate unless the ministry annuls the cabinet resolution on the P4P scheme and returns to the old system.
Dr Pradit said he could not respond to their request, saying P4P was the ministry’s major policy and aimed to facilitate better administration.
"The Public Health Ministry has been stuck on this issue for the past few months," he said. All parties should consider the best interests of the people.
"I feel sorry that we did not have a chance to talk together and create understanding,” the minister said.
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