Uttarakhand HC directs State to consider increasing stipend of MBBS interns as Medicos Continue protest
Nainital: In the recent development regarding the stipend issue of Uttarakhand intern doctors, the High Court has directed the State to consider the possibility of increasing the stipend of intern doctors within the State.
Giving such directions to the Secretary of Medical Health and Family Welfare, the HC bench comprising of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma observed, "For, on the one hand, it is difficult to attract the doctors to the State, yet, on the other hand, the stipend being paid to the intern doctors is too low as compared to the other States. Therefore, the State Government should consider the possibility of increasing the stipend of intern doctors within the State."
Even after such observations on the part of the High Court, the protesting students in Government medical colleges in Uttarakhand are continuing their strike as there has been no confirmation in this regard from the Government yet. In fact, the medical interns of the VCSG medical college at Srinagar started sweeping the road and selling fast-food to raise their voice regarding the issue.
Medical Dialogues had recently reported that getting no response from the Government, around 330 medical interns from 3 Government Medical Colleges in Uttarakhand resorted to strike. These interns include students from Doon Medical College, Dr. Susheela Tiwari Government Medical College and Hospital, Haldwani, and interns from VCSG Medical College, Srinagar.
Protesting against the situation where the MBBS interns in Uttarakhand get the lowest stipend (Rs. 7,500) in the country, which hasn't been revised in the last 10 years, they are seeking an immediate increase in their stipends and have given a call for "One Nation, One Stipend". They have sought that the Government increases their stipend to Rs. 23,500 per month, making it on par with other States.
Recently, the High Court was listening to a batch of public interest litigations related to the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the State. During the hearing, the counselor for the petitioner in one of those PIL, Mr. Abhijay Negi raised two concerning issues related to better management of the approaching third wave of the pandemic. One of those issues was the concern regarding the low stipend being paid to the intern doctors.
Mr. Negi pointed out that while the intern doctors in Uttarakhand are being paid a monthly stipend of Rs. 7,500/-, the intern Doctors in Himachal Pradesh are being paid Rs. 17,000/- and in Chhatisgarh, they are being paid Rs. 17,900/- per month as stipend.
Pointing out that it is essential that the stipend being paid to the intern Doctors should be increased so as to motivate them to become a front-line warrior to tackle Covid-19, the counsel for the petitioner suggested that the State must gear up and must strengthen its healthcare system to take on the third waive as it strikes the State, possibly in the second week of August, 2021.
After listening to the suggestions, the High Court directed Mr. Amit Negi, the learned Secretary of Medical Health and Family Welfare, to consider the possibility of increasing the stipend being paid to the intern doctors.
"For, on the one hand, according to Mr. Amit Negi, it is difficult to attract the doctors to the State, yet, on the other hand, the stipend being paid to the intern doctors is too low as compared to the other States. Therefore, the State Government should consider the possibility of increasing the stipend of intern doctors within the State," observed the Court yesterday.
Although the High Court has given directions in the favor of the students, the Government is yet to confirm anything regarding increasing the stipend of the MBBS interns in the State. So, all the students across three Government medical colleges in the State are continuing with their strike.
In fact, as an attempt to intensify their protests, the MBBS interns at VCSG Srinagar started sweeping the streets. Such a campaign, on the part of the interns, was to give a message to the Government that the doctors could earn more by sweeping the streets rather than doing a 12 hour duty at the medical colleges.
Yesterday, the intern doctors started selling ice-creams and snacks to demonstrate their protest. Soon, photos and videos of intern doctors started circulating on social media. The students claimed that they were able to earn Rs 2,400 within half an hour by only selling fast food whereas they get only Rs 250 per day after attending patients for hours and hours.
Speaking to Medical Dialogues, an MBBS intern from VCSG Medical College, Srinagar said, "We are trying to convey our message to the Government in different ways. The main motif of the sweeping campaign and the fast-food selling campaign was to forward our message that we can earn more by doing minimal jobs rather than what we get while working as MBBS interns."
"However, we do want to discontinue our duties. So, we are trying to help people in various ways during our strike. For instance, yesterday we organized a health campaign to make people aware of the approaching third wave of the pandemic. Today, we distributed masks for free among people. We also offered free health check-ups to people," she added.
When asked if after the High Court directions they are planning to call off the strike, the intern doctor from VCSG Medical College, Srinagar, clarified, "We are hopeful that now that the High Court has given directions, something finally might happen in our favor. However, we are still going to wait for a few days and wait for the Government's response. If the Government doesn't respond, our college might consider calling off our strike but continue the protest at the same time. We don't want the patients to suffer because of us."
To view the official judgment of the High Court, click on the link below.