Medical services in Bihar were partially affected as around 1,000 junior doctors in nine government medical colleges went on an indefinite strike on Wednesday over their demand for an increase in monthly stipend.
The junior doctors, who are postgraduate (PG) medical students and MBBS interns, have kept their colleagues on Covid-19 duty out of the purview of the strike. They have, however, refrained from attending other duties, including outdoor, in-patient and emergency, which were now being managed by senior residents and faculty members.
The junior doctors are demanding that the monthly stipend for PG courses be increased to Rs 80,000, Rs 85,000 and Rs 90,000 in the first, second and third year respectively. At present, they get Rs 50,000, Rs 55,000 and Rs 60,000, respectively.
The government, while revising the stipends on May 9, 2017, had agreed for a revision every three years, claimed the Junior Doctors Association (JDA), Bihar.
“We are at the frontline of the war against coronavirus. The government takes credit for successfully controlling the pandemic in the state but is apathetic when it comes to increasing our remuneration. The revision of our stipend is due since January this year. We have given several representations to the health department during this period, but barring verbal assurance, we have got nothing,” said Dr Ramchandra Kumar, JDA president of the Nalanda Medical College Hospital (NMCH), which is one of the six government medical colleges imparting PG curriculum in Bihar.
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Medical colleges have asked senior residents and faculty members, including senior doctors in the rank of assistant professor, associate professor and professor from the clinical and non-clinical disciplines, while also deputing some medical officers from peripheries, to manage hospital services at medical colleges.
“We are not stopping any patient, but have exempted ourselves from duty, barring those on Covid duty. We will abstain from duty till the government heeds our demand,” said Dr Pappu Kumar Saifi, a JDA member from the NMCH.
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Junior doctors are peeved with senior officers in the health department as they were reportedly not meeting them anymore.
“We have been compelled to strike work as none of the senior officers in the health department are even willing to meet us. We went to the health secretariat as recently as on December 14 and 21, but the senior officers did not meet us. We returned empty handed, after handing our representation to the office staff,” said Dr Harendra Kumar, JDA president of the Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH).
The junior doctors did not give any written intimation to the health authorities before going on an indefinite strike from Wednesday in light of a Patna high court order, which prevents them from striking. They had, however, informed their respective college principals and medical superintendents a day in advance.
The hospitals affected by the strike include PMCH, NMCH (both in Patna), Darbhanga Medical College Hospital (in Darbhanga), Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College (Bhagalpur), Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital (Muzaffarpur), Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College (Gaya), Vardhaman Institute of Medical Sciences (Pawapuri in Nalanda district) and the government medical colleges in Bettiah (West Champaran district) and in Madhepura.
Junior doctors of the AIIMS and the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (both in Patna), have refrained from going on strike. The junior doctors at these two autonomous medical institutions in the state get a higher stipend.
A couple of months back, the government heeded junior doctors’ demand for study leave, after completing their PG, to pursue higher super-specialty courses like DM, M.Ch, DNB or fellowship programme.
Bihar, in 2017, made it mandatory for PG students from government-run medical colleges to serve three years in its health facilities after completing their course.
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