Police anti-riot unit deployed to strengthen the security of National Hospital of Sri Lanka

Police car lights

A tense situation broke out in front of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) in Colombo This evening (February 16) when the minor staff of the hospital started a demonstration against the Deputy Director of the hospital, Dr. Rukshan Bellana.

Earlier today, it was reported that Dr. Rukshan Bellana was forcibly detained in his office by the hospital’s minor staff.

This incident occurred after Dr. Bellana heavily criticized the recent country-wide strike action carried out by a collective of 72 health sector trade unions over disparities in allowances.

Police anti-riot unit has also been deployed to strengthen the security of the hospital premises.

On Wednesday (February 14), however, the health trade unions decided to call off their strike after Health Minister Dr. Ramesh Pathirana agreed to hold a discussion with them on Monday (February 19).

The trade unions representing a wide range of health sector professionals, including radiology and laboratory technicians, pharmacists and drug compounders, midwives, dental surgeons, public health inspectors, and entomology officers have engaged in strikes over the past few months demanding an allowance hike.

The trade union actions stemmed from the Cabinet Ministers’ approval of President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s proposal to double the Disturbance, Availability and Transport (DAT) allowance paid to government doctors, raising it from Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 70,000.

Against this backdrop, a special gazette notification was published on February 13, 2024 declaring the provision of healthcare as an essential public service.