Staff Reporter

Directorate of Medical Education blamed for strike

Junior doctors submit memorandum to the Director of Medical EducationImplementation of the system will help deliver round-the-clock patient careThey allege vested interests behind non-implementation of system

Thiruvananthapuram: The Junior Doctors' Association has blamed the Directorate of Medical Education for its inept handling of various issues of utmost importance to medical colleges, including those that led to the 48-hour strike by junior doctors across the State.

The junior doctors said that they had given a memorandum to the Director of Medical Education detailing their demands, including the hike in stipend and the implementation of the residency system in medical colleges, seven months ago. Though the Health Minister had directed that these issues be looked into, the DME had not called the students for discussions or put forth any positive suggestions, the association said.

Kerala is the only State where medical postgraduate students are being levied high fees while being paid a pittance as stipend. Implementation of the residency system, wherein junior doctors who are doing postgraduate training are taken in as resident doctors on a temporary basis, will help deliver round-the-clock patient care in medical colleges, the junior doctors said.

However, there were vested interests behind the Directorate of Medical Education's and the Government's disinterest in implementing the residency system, they said in a statement here on Monday.

A committee set up by the Government in 1995, chaired by the then DME M.A. Aleykkutty had recommended that the residency system would improve patient care and administration in medical colleges without any additional financial burden to the Government.

Under the residency system, instead of one unit chief taking on the full responsibility of treating patients, the consultant doctors and resident doctors in the team are made to take on the responsibility of treating a patient till he leaves the hospital. This not only gives the doctors-in-training more experience, but also solves the problem of shortage of medical staff at night.

The residency system has been approved by the Medical Council of India and has been implemented in several medical colleges in the country, including premier institutions like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Sri Chitra Institute of Medical Sciences.

Junior doctors alleged that it was to protect the interests of the private hospitals' lobby that the residency system was being scuttled here.