Health and Family Welfare Minister Arvind Limbavali on Monday said the major demand of the striking government doctors to bring the 10 district hospitals under his department was more an inter-departmental affair, which should not affect healthcare services.
Urging the doctors and medical staff to immediately withdraw the strike, Mr. Limbavali told the Legislative Council here that their grouse on lost promotional opportunities because of the transfer of district hospitals to the Medical Education Department and their urging to set up new government hospitals would be suitably addressed.
On the other hand, if the hospitals are withdrawn from the Medical Education Department, there were chances of the Medical Council of India (MCI) withdrawing recognition to government colleges. However, for the new seven government medical colleges, the MCI has relaxed the norms on having clinical facilities of their own and have instead permitted tie-up with other hospitals. District hospitals in these centres would not be transferred to the Medical Education Department, he said.
Mr. Limbavali was responding to concerns raised by Patel Shivaram, Maritibbe Gowda, R.V. Venkatesh and Monappa Bhandari during Zero Hour on the strike entering the fourth day, and severely affecting healthcare services across the State, especially for the poor. They castigated the government and the department for its failure to prevent the strike and said there have been frequent strikes during the present dispensation.
The Minister said doctors come up with fresh demands soon after their earlier demands are met despite them being told to place all their demands together. “We accepted their demand for enhanced salaries last time. Now they have a fresh demand that the salaries should be paid on the first day of the month,” he said. Another demand for payment of rural allowance to paramedical staff has been accepted. He said he would convince the Finance Department to agree to it.
He said the Cabinet sub-committee would meet this week to take a final call.
Mr. Limbavali said in the Legislative Assembly on Monday that he would make alternative arrangements to address the problems of patients. Employees of 108 service were not participating in the strike and para-medical staff had agreed to return to work as their demands were met. Mr. Limbavali said the genesis of the problem lies in having parallel authorities such as the Medical Education and Health departments, and there was an idea to form a single authority. A solution would be found after considering the technical and legal issues involved.