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Fuad working to raise neurosurgeons' pay

By Sue-Ann Wayow sue-ann.wayow@trinidadexpress.com

HEALTH Minister Dr Fuad Khan is investigating whether he can intervene to increase the salaries of neurosurgeons who have no interest in working for public health care wages.

Khan said he wants to make sure that nothing prevents him from having input in salary negotiations for neurosurgeons and other specialists.

The low salaries offered to neurosurgeons has left the San Fernando General Hospital without full-time neurosurgeons for the past five years.

As a result, the hospital has referred brain-injured patients to hospitals in north Trinidad.

Speaking with reporters yesterday after the opening of the oncology unit at the San Fernando General Hospital, Khan said further investigation was needed with regards to the salaries.

Khan previously told the Express that the salary rate of medical specialists in the public sector was "atrocious" and there was little he could do to intervene, since the salaries were determined by the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO).

The Regional Health Authorities (RHAs), he said, were considered a corporate body and supposed to be able to determine salaries for their employees at a competitive rate.

But for "some strange reason" Khan said, the CPO was in total control of the RHAs' salary arrangements.

Yesterday he said, "I have looked at Cabinet notes and I have ask the Cabinet Secretariat to look at it. The CPO has no jurisdiction over the RHA so the minister could now develop a plan to remunerate neurosurgeons and specialties that are in short supply and high demand...also nurses and ancillary services.

"I could develop a programme to remunerate people properly without the stranglehold of the CPO. I have asked my adviser and the legal people in the ministry to check it out properly so I won't put my foot in my mouth and also to make sure that no Cabinet note exists that binds me to that procedure."

Khan said the State can afford to pay higher salaries, and pay for the training of specialist doctors. —AA

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