Comprehensive agreement on NFTH takeover to be inked soon – says Rajitha

GMOA lambasts govt. for spending public funds without formal pact

Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne yesterday said the government would soon enter into a comprehensive agreement with the SAITM (South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine) in respect of the take over of the Dr. Neville Fernando Teaching Hospital (NFTH).

Dr. Senaratne said that the Attorney General’s Department was in the process of finalising an agreement in the wake of a tripartite agreement (letter of intent) among the government, SAITM and the Bank of Ceylon (BoC) on the NFTH take over.

Once signed, it would be presented to Parliament for approval as an Act on the lines of the one on Sri Jayewardenepura Hospital, Dr. Senaratne said.

The health ministry took over the management and operations of the hospital on Aug.1, 2017.

The health minister said that they were in the process of formulating minimum standards for medical education. He assured that once the Legal Draftsman had finalised the relevant document, it would be gazetted.

A senor SAITM spokesman told The Island that Rs. 2 bn loan taken from the BoC in 2011 would be paid back by Dr. Neville Fernando though an attempt was being made in some quarters to mislead the public over the letter of intent.

Meanwhile, Dr. Neville Fernando told The Island that the SAITM would enrol about 300 more students in October this year. He alleged that offspring of the majority of those opposed to SAITM were studying overseas. Answering query, Dr. Fernando said that of 300, about 100 would come from overseas to join SAITM. Dr. Fernando emphasised that he wouldn’t succumb to pressure from those wanting to cripple private medical education in Sri Lanka.

The Government Medical Officers’ Association has accused the government of spending public funds amounting to millions of rupees on the NFTH without a proper agreement. It has said when it asked for a copy of the agreement the Health Ministry provided it with only single-page document, which left it none the wiser.

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