Dr Susitha Senaratne, regular medical officer and quasi-director of Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital (SJGH), formerly attached to the National Hospital had been ordered to be removed from the Board of Directors of SJGH with immediate effect by the Court of Appeal in a verdict delivered today (18.06.2018) under the case hearing of CA WRIT 184/2018. Senaratne, possessing no qualifications what so ever to hold the post of Director SJGH has been occupying the office without as much a letter of appointment with the backing of the Chairman of the Board Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage. Senaratne, previously unknown in UNP political circles is a political acolyte of Rajitha Senaratne, Minister of Health.
Senaratne appeared in the SJGH premises in March 2015 with a letter appointing him as a member of the SJGH Board occupied the office of the Director without any formal release in violation of the common law of the country, the Establishment Code and the Management Services Minutes stipulating the recruitment criteria of a Director to a General Hospital. This was the only time in the hospital’s 34 year history that a regular medical officer without professional or academic qualifications has occupied the office of its administrative head without as much a Board sanction on the appointment. Previously this position has been held by fully qualified senior medical administrators such as Dr. R.C. Rajapakse, Dr. Lakshman de Lanerolle and Dr. S.A.K. Gamage. While Senaratne was never formally released by the Public Service Commission he has been sitting in the Procurement Committee of SJGH responsible for making procurement decisions worth millions with tax payer money in his non appointed state, essentially making the Procurement Committee null. The grave financial irregularity surrounding this issue was highlighted by Colombo Telegraph in last October.
This illegal occupation of the office of the Director of SJGH by Senaratne whose only qualification was his subservience to Rajitha Senaratne was twice questioned by COPE and successive Secretaries to the Ministry of Health were strictly instructed to ensure that the post is immediately advertised and a qualified officer appointed. Secretary to the Ministry of Health Janaka Sugathadasa in a shameful attempt to scuttle justice delayed any administrative action advised by COPE subjugating to the will of the Minister of Health. Colombo Telegraph exposed the unbecoming acts of administrative delaying adapted by Sugathadasa, Kanhadaliyanage and members of the Board of Directors of SJGH to protect and perpetuate the non-appointed ‘Director’ Susitha Senaratne. Colombo telegraph reliably learns that only the three specialists representing the hospital at the Board, namely Dr. P.J. Ambawatte, Dr. Madhava Karunaratne and Dr. Kanishka Indraratne have been among the members of the Board consistently pressurizing, verbally and in writing, the Chairman and the Board to advertise the position and recruit a qualified Director. The rest of the members Prof. Janaka De Silva (Director, Post Graduate institute of Medicine), Dr. Anil Jasinghe & formerly Dr. P.G. Mahipala (Director General Health Services), Eng. Chamath De Silva (Chairman Waters Edge), R. Semasinghe & formerly Anula Harasgama (Deputy Director General Public Enterprises of the Treasury), Dr. Harsha Samaraweera, Nanda Lalith Senanayake along with the Chairman and Senaratne all executed a well-planned course of inaction and administrative manipulation for three and a half years. The tactics employed by Kahandaliyanage and the complicit Board members are reported to be manipulation of Board Minutes, consuming large amounts of time between writing letters to relevant institutions, claiming that the ‘letters was inexplicably not posted’ and paper pushing.
In the beginning of the year SJGH closed down for 10 days where friction between Senaratne and a 600 cadre strong nurses escalated. Such breakdown of services compromising the lives of patients, pregnant mothers, ICU patients, and neonates was an unprecedented event in the history of SJGH and the Ministry of Health. Unyielding and obstinate, Senaratne went on a rampage of sending striking employees on compulsory leave and instigated ‘disciplinary inquires’ against them for questioning his qualifications and authority to be Director of a General Hospital and a Post Graduate Institute. Essentially all documents, internship certifications, post graduate training certifications issued by Senaratne for the last 3 and a half years remain invalid as he is a mere medical officer neither appointed nor qualified to be signatory to such official documents. It appears that the learned members of the Board of SJGH and Janaka Sugathadasa, Secretary to the Ministry of Health who are appointed to uphold the sanctity of law, administration and the integrity of post graduate education have woefully and wilfully failed in their bounden duty. They are complicit to the violation of the law of the land and jeopardizing the lives of patients and the careers of young doctors.
Rajitha Senaratne was questioned in parliament about this appointment by Nalinda Jayatissa MP at the 2017 Health Budget debate where he smilingly kept mum. Dr. Sujatha Senaratne, wife and private secretary of Rajitha Senaratne who is also the President of the College of Medical Administrators of Sri Lanka has also been strategically silent, without as much as a protest against this illegal appointment. The Government Medical Officer’s Association which initially protested this appointment is largely known to have been egged on to transactionary silence through some of the members presiding on its Administration Subcommittee who are subservient to Rajitha Senaratne.
The two judge panel Justice Arjuna Obeysekera and Justice Preethi Padman Surasena have ordered the immediate suspension of Senaratne as a Member of the SJGH Board and ordered the Board to advertise the position of Director SJGH within 4 weeks and to recruit a duly qualified Director within 4 weeks of advertisement.