A year on, over 100 PG medical students caught in crossfire over stipend

A file photo of the protest staged by the postgraduate medical students of JJM College in Davangere.

A file photo of the protest staged by the postgraduate medical students of JJM College in Davangere.  

They haven’t been paid from March 2019

In Davangere, where celebrations are being held every time a COVID-19 positive patient gets discharged from the designated COVID-19 hospital, many medical postgraduate students who have been attending to these patients are facing hardships as they wait for stipend.

The students who serve the COVID-19 patients and also at the Women and Child Hospital have not been paid from March 2019 because of a technical issue which needs to be sorted out among the management of the JJM Medical College, the Directorate of Medical Education (DME), and Department of Health and Family Welfare (HFW).

For the record, Jagadguru Jayadeva Murugharajendra Medical College (JJM) does not have an hospital attached to it and pays clinical fees to the Chigateri District Hospital and Women and Child Hospital in Davangere to ensure clinical facility to its students.

Till 2017-18, the arrangement was smooth with the college paying clinical fees and the students getting stipend from the State government. Kasturba Medical College in Mangaluru too has a similar arrangement with Wenlock District Hospital. However, after an audit objection, the Additional Chief Secretary to government wrote to the Directorate of Medical Education in October 2018 directing them to restrict the payment of stipend for a year and ask the Chigateri District Hospital and Wenlock Hospital in Mangaluru to pay students from the ARS Accounts of the respective hospitals.

And from then, began the problems of the medical students. They have been running from pillar to post seeking stipends. Students allege that DME and HFW were trying to pass on the responsibility saying they do not have funds. In between, the college management was asked to pay the stipend to which the management sought to clarify that they were paying clinical fee to the district hospital and that had not been taken into consideration while asking them to pay the stipend.

It has been over six months after Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa asked the DME to release the stipend and nothing has happened. When Minister for Medical Education K. Sudhakar chaired a COVID-19 review meeting in Davangere in the second week of May, the junior doctors approached him seeking a solution. The Karnataka wing of United Resident and Doctors’ Association, ABVP, and other students organisations urged the Minister to take immediate steps. They even said that while these doctors were risking their lives to treat COVID-19 patients, they were being forced to face hardships for no fault of them.

The junior doctors were forced to stage a black badge protest and hold a candlelight vigil. “But nothing has happened despite assurance from the Minister. We have been repeatedly told that the issue will be sorted,” Rahul, a medical PG student, told The Hindu.

Meanwhile, the confusion on who has to pay the stipend remains. While DME is pointing towards the college, the college management is in turn asking the government to pay. And over 100 students are caught in between.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 9:19:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/a-year-on-over-100-pg-medical-students-caught-in-crossfire-over-stipend/article31674130.ece

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