Instead of privatising the facilities, they want the government to fill up vacancies

Government medical laboratory technicians are up in arms against the State’s move to outsource a number of its laboratories.

Instead of privatising the facilities, they want the government to fill up vacancies of medical laboratory technicians, create additional posts and improve the infrastructure of government labs.

Last year, a government order was issued to privatise medical laboratories in the five district-headquartered hospitals in Namakkal, Tirupur, Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram and Virudhunagar, the two medical college hospitals in Tiruvannamalai and Villupuram, and the seven regional laboratories under the Directorate of Public Health.

This was to be carried out through a public-private partnership, said G. Sukumar, general secretary of Tamil Nadu Government Medical Laboratory Technicians Association.

“According to the government, this move was aimed at strengthening laboratory services for people in the State,” he said.

The State has nearly 2,200 posts of laboratory technicians. “There are nearly 1,500 to 1,600 technicians now, while the remaining posts are vacant. The posts should be increased as the number of medical colleges has increased and several districts have been bifurcated,” Mr. Sukumar said.

As per Medical Council of India norms, there should be 69 lab technicians in a medical college hospital with 100 students, Mr. Sukumar said. Last month, members of the lab technicians association met health minister K.C. Veeramani and he promised to look into their demands. As part of protests held across the State, the association went on a fast on Sunday.

A senior official of the health department said there were 2,000-odd laboratories in medical colleges, government hospitals and ward primary health centres.

“The Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation runs seven laboratories on paid service, with government labs providing free services simultaneously. These are being merged and outsourced. There is no overall proposal to outsource government laboratories,” he said.

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