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File picture: Medical interns

RADHICA DE SILVA

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Investigations have started as to why medical interns attached to the San Fernando General Hospital are being mandated to work extra hours against the directives of the Health Ministry.

This was confirmed by Corporate Communications Manager at the SWRHA Kevon Gervais.

However, he noted that no further comment could be issued until investigations were complete.

A source who requested anonymity said medical interns were being pressured by consultants to work extra time, particularly on weekends.

Saying they were overworked and tired, the source said sometimes they work double shifts and there was no place to rest.

Even though the SWRHA had allocated space for medical practitioners in-between shifts, the source said this space was usually dominated by senior doctors.

At the end of their shifts, some interns are usually so tired that they are forced to call relatives to take them home.

“Sometimes at the end of a late shift we are expected to come back again early in the morning,” the source added.

In a newsletter issued by SWRHA workers, calls were made for Public Services Association (PSA) President Watson Duke to investigate the working conditions.

Saying some workers barely had time to use the bathroom because their “supposed four hours rotation is not adequate.”

“Workers are now at risk of dehydration and serious urinary tract infections because of the stressful conditions under which they operate, hardly any time to rehydrate or use the washrooms can have dire health consequences for any individual,” the letter stated.

The source also said overworked and fatigued staff were also prone to making mistakes, which could prove fatal in the delivery of health care.

There were also concerns of overcrowding at the COVID screening tent which is near the A&E department.

“The Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine for rapid COVID testing has broken down several times,” the source added.

Efforts to contact Duke for comment proved futile.

Emails were sent to the Ministry of Health Communications Department and Minister Terrence Deyalsingh since Tuesday but queries were directed to the SWRHA.