Staff Reporter

All medical professional bodies express solidarity with stir

Thirivananthapuram: All professional bodies of doctors in the private and public sectors have come together to express solidarity with Government doctors who will luanch a relay hunger strike in front of the Secretariat on Tuesday to press their demand for a revised pay scale.

Health Service doctors have been on a non-cooperation strike for the past five months, demanding better pay-scale and restructuring of the service.

At a joint press conference here on Monday, representatives of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), its student wing, the Kerala Government Medical College Teachers' Association, Kerala Government Insurance Medical Officers' Association, Qualified Private Medical Practitioners' Association and the Junior Doctors' Association said the entire medical fraternity would be forced to join the agitationif the Government did not take any positive step to resolve the issue.

The Health Minister had not taken the trouble to understand the real problems faced by Government doctors, before making ``provocative'' statements that their strike would be dealt with firmly, the IMA representatives said. The Government had not yet explained what justification the Pay Commission could have for reducing the pay-scale of doctors. When 51 categories of Government servants were given a new pay-scale, the only class that was downgraded were doctors, IMA and the Kerala Government Medical Officers' Association (KGMOA) representatives said.

In the last 15 years, four Chief Ministers, three Finance Ministers and seven Health Ministers had made public declarations in the floor of the Assembly and outside that young doctors were not attracted to the Health Services because of the dismal pay being offered.

Though the Government had said that several rounds of discussions were held with doctors and that most of their demands had been met, the only sop given was an increase in allowance, the KGMOA said.

Doctors with DM qualification were given a hike of Rs. 95 in their allowance of Rs. 650; those with MD qualification a hike of Rs. 85; and diploma holders a hike of Rs. 60.

A doctor holding an additional charge would get a hike of Rs. 15 in his or her charge allowance of Rs. 100, while the risk allowance had been hiked from Rs. 90 to Rs. 99.

There were 600 vacancies in Government Health Services at present.

The Government did not seem to recognise the fact that the Government doctors were working under severe limitations and that they have to handle several additional duties.

By the end of 2007, some 500 doctors in Health Service would be retiring, 80 per cent of them specialists.

The low pay and lack of incentives in the Health Service would only encourage young medical graduates to go in search of better options, the doctors said.

Meanwhile, the student wing of the IMA is holding a series of interactive sessions with postgraduate students, house surgeons and MBBS students from September 12 to 26 on the current scenario in Health Service. They will also join the hunger strike by the KGMOA on September 26.