Medical services in the State are likely to be hit in the coming week with members of the Karnataka Government Health Department Officers and Employees’ Welfare Samiti threatening to go on a strike from Friday.
More than 65,000 members of the samiti — comprising doctors, paramedics, drivers and other Group D employees working in the Health Department — will stop functioning from that day.
The strike is in support of their demands that include withdrawal of the 10 district hospitals (attached to medical colleges) from the Medical Education Department, regular payment of salaries and reforms in the transfer policy.
Samiti president H.N. Ravindra, who launched an indefinite hunger strike on February 4, told The Hindu that all government hospitals in the State (run by the Health Department) will shut down on Friday. “We are firm this time and we will stop emergency services. We are also planning to boycott the national pulse polio programme scheduled on February 24. All 4,000 government doctors will assemble in Bangalore on that day and will not move from here till the government gives us in writing that our demands will be met on a particular date,” he said.
Demanding that the salaries of Group D employees and other hospital staff, including doctors, in rural areas should be paid every month, Dr. Ravindra said: “Now the salaries are being paid through the zilla panchayats. Most of the time, they don’t get salaries for more than six months at a time as the zilla panchayats divert the funds for other purposes. We want the salaries to be paid directly through the Finance Department.”
He said that in Chickballapur district, even doctors of some primary health centres had not been paid from July 2012. The Karnataka Government Medical Officers’ Association’s (KGMOA), which has now merged with the samiti, demand for withdrawal of the district hospitals and merger of incentives with basic pay of doctors has been pending for long.