They demanded 12-hour shifts instead of the 36-hour shifts every week and relief from doing routine work such as administering injections, drawing blood samples and taking samples for testing.

Interns of Government Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) Hospital stayed away from work on Tuesday, and staged a demonstration against the hospital administration for failing to implement guidelines pertaining to the allocation of duties.

Around two months ago, interns of various government medical colleges had raised the issue of being made to do routine tasks that they said nursing and paramedical staff should be doing, such as administering injections, drawing blood samples and taking samples for testing.

Following their protests, the health secretary had asked colleges to follow the guidelines for internship laid down by the Medical Council of India and Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University.

KMC’s interns (also known as house surgeons) said that Madras Medical College, Government Stanley Medical College Hospital and colleges in Coimbatore and Vellore had already taken steps to relieve interns from most of these routine tasks.

“MMC has appointed nearly 60 nurses and 30 laboratory technicians on a contract basis, while Stanley Hospital’s dean has issued a circular to implement the guidelines. Only KMC has not taken measures to follow the government’s instructions or look into our demands,” said an intern.

The interns also said they were being made to work for more than 36 hours continually, and had been denied their completion certificates. They demanded 12-hour shifts instead of the 36-hour shifts every week.

“We are continuing to do routine tasks so that patient care is not affected. If staff nurses are not willing to give injections, then contract staff should be appointed,” another intern said.

The interns said the dean should be immediately transferred if the government’s direction was not implemented. They wanted him to assure them in writing that their demands would be met.

Dean P. Ramakrishnan said he had already told the interns not to administer injections if they did not want to. “They say ward staff are compelling them to do so. So I had asked them to take up the issue with the 3-member house surgeons monitoring committee, but so far, nothing has been brought to the notice of the committee,” he said.

The dean, along with the college vice principal, deputy superintendent and heads of departments have called the striking interns to discuss their isses. “It is difficult to demarcate duties in a hospital, as emergency situations constantly arise and we should be able to meet any need. Responsibilities should be shared,” Dr. Ramakrishnan said.

The interns said some of them who were posted in emergency wards and were on night duty reported for work, while the rest participated in the protest.

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