Medical Faculty are not going to withdraw the strike unless they get pay parity with the Centre.
Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association which is currently protesting for a pay hike; is leaving no stone unturned to make the state government meet their demands.
Recently, the faculty members of the Madurai and Tirunelveli Medical Colleges boycotted the Medical Council of India’s (MCI) boycotted the inspection for the increase of seats in these medical institutions. This move of the faculty apparently made the ongoing salary hike strike by the government doctors, much more intense and conspicuous.
The Madurai and Tirunelveli Medical Colleges had applied an increase of 100 MBBS seats each. Hence, to ascertain if the colleges’ administration and infrastructure are apt for the same or not, the examiners from the Medical Council of India came to the institutes for the mandatory headcount.
However, the faculty didn’t show up during the inspection and the MCI inspection teams recorded deficiency in staff strength at the total 100%.
The two-member panel of the apex medical regulator inspected hospitals, classrooms and labs at the two colleges and waited with the dean for the faculty members to turn up but there was a no-show, reports TOI.
It has been brought out that the Medical Education department was informed about the said boycott in advance over three months ago through a formal notice.
A day before the boycott too, the joint action committee of the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors’ Association, which is reportedly spearheading the strike, informed the Director of Medical Education, Dr A Edwin Joe, that they would not be attending the mandatory head count before the inspection committee.
“The doctors will skip the head count on Friday i.e. 7th September, if the government did not meet their demands,” the committee Chairman and Association President, Dr K Senthil had stated.
“Headcount is a mandatory part of the inspection and we may lose these seats if the doctors don’t appear. Fortunately, the team has agreed to stay back tomorrow as well. We have told the doctors that disciplinary action will be taken if they skip the inspection,” Dr Joe informed the inspection’s importance and the warning given to the doctors if they opted for the boycott.
The state may lose more than 200 government MBBS seats this year, stated Dr Joe. “We may have to request the MCI for another round of inspection. For this, we have to send a request and pay a fee of Rs 3 lakh per college once again,” he said.
Since 3rd September, the protesting doctors have not entered classrooms of medical colleges across the state. They have also stopped signing attendance registers, boycotted all government meetings and audits, refused to sit on the medical board or send daily reports, and stopped signing papers for pregnant women to get money from the Muthulakshmi Maternal Benefit Scheme. However, the patient services will not be affected due to the strike.
Dr Senthil confirmed, “We will continue the stir until our demands are met. But we have promised that treatment of patients will not be affected.”
Pointing out their dilemma, the association described that the salary for doctors in the state and central services is the same when they join duty, but doctors in central government services receive promotions in four, nine, 13 and 20 years, compared to eight, 15, 17 and 20 years in the state government.
Doctors in government service also get a salary that is lower than lecturers or professors at arts/science colleges, although government doctors work for at least 50 hours a week compared to 32 hours of the teaching faculty.
“We start with the same salary but there is a difference in our basic pay from the fourth year. We understand we won’t get the allowances as we are allowed to do private practice, but we are demanding parity in basic pay,” Dr Senthil said.
The members of the committee also met the Health Minister C Vijayabaskar and senior department officials including health secretary J Radhakrishnan to press their demands. However, to no avail, the government failed to promise a hike to the doctors.
“We started talks with the government about the strike in June. We were called for talks on Tuesday where we clearly explained our stand. We have also held a meeting with the members of the public to gather support. We have been telling ourselves that we will not stop patient services unless we are left with no other choice,” Dr Senthil said.
On the issue of promotions, Medical Dialogues had earlier reported that following protest form Medical faculties Director of Medical Education had stated that nearly 7,000 doctors in government medical colleges would be re-designated or promoted as per MCI norms and nomenclature by the end of May.
Dr Joe informed TOI that the association, after talks with the government, asked for a review of the recent government order, which redesignates titles according to MCI norms. “There were some clerical errors in the annexures of the GO that has reduced sanctioned posts. Many people feared they might be displaced. We are trying to rectify that. We are hoping problems will be solved if that is rectified,” he clarified.
Meanwhile, officials from the joint action committee said they will not withdraw the strike unless they get pay parity with the Centre.
The members of the association have also warned that they would stop doing surgeries under the chief minister’s health insurance scheme if the government did not look into issues of pay parity.