Kerala: Protests have continued to gather momentum at Dr Somervell Memorial CSI Medical College and Hospital, Karakonam for the past 10 days, as house surgeons have remained off duty from work, here since May 1, 2016. The house surgeons have been on strike protesting against the meagre stipend of Rs 3,957 per month that they are currently being paid by the college.
As pointed out by the students, this paltry sum is way below the legitimate stipend fixed by the government for house surgeons. A government order from June last year had revised the stipend for house surgeons in all government, private and self-financing medical colleges in the State from Rs 15000 to Rs 20,000 effective from April 2015. However, the students at the said college are still being paid the amount of Rs 3957.
“We have been requesting the college management for quite some time to hike our stipend but they kept on delaying the decision. We approached the James Committee, which was to have held its final hearing on April 30. But the management again bought time and got the date extended to May 17. The management is now threatening to remove us from the hospital and cut power and water supply to the interns’ hostel unless we give in writing that we will not organise group protests,” one of the students told the Hindu.
“The plight of house surgeons in most private medical colleges in the State are no different and they are all being paid Rs.6,000-9,000 as stipend even though they are doing same work as that of their counterparts in government medical colleges. It is as though the government order is not applicable to the private college managements at all. Students from affluent families may not be affected, but for students who secured admission on government quota, this stipend really matters,” a senior resident in Thiruvananthapuram Medical College pointed out.
The college however has completely denied the existence of any such order. College principal Dr Suseela K Pillai told TOI, “There is no government order regarding increase of stipend. The college is facing financial problems. We told the students that we will hike the amount after the hearing on May 17 but they went ahead with the strike,” she said.
The Medical College and Hospital currently has 102 house surgeons, including 66 girls. The house surgeons have pointed out more issues with the functioning at the medical college and hospital. Allegedly, for every leave that house surgeons take, they are required to compensate the same with three days of work and with a fine of Rs 250, irrespective of whether the leave is sanctioned or not. The students are also paying up for maintenance work at the hostels including getting the repair and maintenance done.
The house surgeons are currently staging a silent protest in front of the Hospital’s Casualty. It is reported that letters regarding the matter have also been sent to the Indian Medical Association as well as the Human Rights commission.