Junior doctors' stir paralyses services in govt hospitals

About 25,000 post-graduate medical students and interns across the State are on a protest, seeking increase in their stipends.

As part of the curriculum, the students are working in the inpatient, outpatient departments, labour rooms, casualty and emergency departments of the hospitals attached to their respective medical colleges. While the emergency services in these hospitals remain unaffected, the rest of the services have come to a grinding halt on account of the protest.

In Bengaluru, hundreds of protestors gathered at Victoria Hospital under the umbrella of Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors (KARD). The students, who have been protesting for one year now are seeking an increase in stipend, have intensified the strike this time, threatening to boycott work completely till their demands are met. 

The OPDs in government hospitals attached to medical colleges have taken a hit due to the strike. In Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospitals, the entire building hosting the OPD was deserted on Monday with all departments locked for the day. Similar was the situation in Vani Vilas, Victoria and Minto Eye Hospital.

They are often required to work for more than 24 hours at a stretch without having weekly offs or compensatory offs. They work all seven days a week, putting in 80-100 hours of work. Those in intensive care and labour work for more than 100 hours. They have no casual or medical leaves, students said. Not just this, by the time they complete the five-year MBBS course and join a post-graduate course, the students are nearing 30. Several of the students in PG and super-speciality courses are married. In spite of being highly qualified, they are forced to depend on their parents for money because of the paltry stipend paid to them, the students said.

Presently, paid a stipend of Rs 15,000, Rs 25,000 and Rs 30,000 for house surgeons, PG students, and super speciality residents respectively, they want it to be increased to Rs 20,000, Rs 40,000 and Rs 50,000. The last hike in the stipend was in November 2011. The students had submitted a memorandum in February 2014 and approached the minister again in January this year, with no change in the situation. They have also sought DA on a par with government employees, in addition to stipend.

Meanwhile, medical education director S S Harsoor told Deccan Herald that he was in touch with the students for the past one week. “The government will place the demands before the cabinet,” he said.

“None of the officials came to interact with us. We are not happy with the proposal. They said the same thing last August. We will continue the protest,” said a student.

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