Doctors’ body objects to increasing working hours for medical officers

The Health department’s move to increase the working hours of medical officers of primary health centres (PHC) has drawn flak from various government doctors’ associations.

In a Government Order 225, the department revised the duty timings of medical officers from the earlier 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine had suggested the revised duty timings for medical officers and all staff including pharmacist and laboratory technicians in PHCs with 3/2/1 medical officers: 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. for Out Patient Department (OPD), 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for special clinics/surgery, 1.30 p.m. to 3 p.m. for administrative work, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. for evening OPD and from 4 p.m. for duty at call for one medical officer.

The Federation of Government Doctors Association, which consists of Democratic Tamil Nadu Government Doctors’ Association, Service Doctors and Postgraduates Association (SDPGA), Tamil Nadu Medical Officers’ Association (TNMOA) and the Government All Doctors’ Association issued a statement condemning the move.

One of the associations, SDPGA, said there were no facilities for transportation as well as no remuneration for doctors for on-call duty. TNMOA members said that unlike those working in the Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services and Directorate of Medical Education, who are primarily involved in patient care, the work of medical officers of DPH included administrative work, dengue and fever surveillance, camps during disasters such as floods and vaccination camps.

It was in 2009 that following a representation from doctors association that former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi issued GO 339 reducing the working hours to 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., A. Ramalingam, general secretary of SDPGA, said. He said in rural areas, where many take up agricultural work early in the day, the peak inflow of patients to PHCs was from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

As a protest, FOGDA has decided that doctors of all three directorates would leave official WhatsApp groups on August 9 and boycott all official meetings, events and camps. An agitation would be held on the DMS premises on August 20. The federation would decide on intensifying the protests if their demands were not met.

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Printable version | Aug 23, 2022 5:13:36 pm |