Other States

Denied pay for three months, 67 government medical officers in Madhya Pradesh go on strike

Sixty seven medical officers of the government-run Bundelkhand Medical College (BMC), a dedicated coronavirus (COVID-19) facility in Sagar, began an indefinite strike on Wednesday demanding salaries due for the past three months and provision of suitable personal protective equipment (PPE).

Stating they were assured payment of dues within a week from June 16, the officers, working without pay since recruitment in April, on Tuesday wrote to the college Dean conveying they had been “compelled to take the step” and that action must be taken against officials concerned for the delay in payment. The appointments were made on a temporary basis for three months in view of the pandemic based on the payscale set by the National Health Mission (NHM).

Eleven medical officers of the government-run Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government Medical College, Vidisha, have also threatened to go on strike citing non-payment of salaries for three months.

“We have raised the issues at every level, to no avail,” said a medical officer at the BMC, requesting anonymity. “Salary became the main issue as some faced difficulty in buying essential commodities. And we were told to work until June 30, after which our duty is uncertain.” He claimed many as interns before April had been denied stipends since January.

Non-payment of salaries to medical officials goes against the Supreme Court’s directives, said Shankul Dwivedi, representative of the Indian Medical Association - Junior Doctors’ Network. “We strongly condemn the irresponsible attitude of the State government. Work will resume once dues are paid.”

As for substandard PPE, the doctors apprised the Sagar Collector they had requested the college several times to issue good quality N95 masks. “If a mask does not fit well on our face, it is useless,” they wrote to him. “Some PPEs don’t have proper shoe cover, others don’t have face shields, so staff are compelled to take components from another PPE set, thereby wasting resources.”

The doctors said a quality check was a must for PPE. “These should be available uniformly at all working places. Working conditions here are pathetic. Please solve this issue at once so that we can work fearlessly,” they appealed to him.

Sagar Collector Deepak Singh told The Hindu the issue of PPE had been resolved already. “For salaries, we have forwarded the request to the National Health Mission.” The Sagar college Dean didn’t take calls despite repeated attempts.

At the Vidisha college, a medical officer said when they approached the college to ask for salary, it asked them to talk to Bhopal, and vice versa. “But there has been no resolution. We may soon have to go on strike as well,” he said.

Describing the appointments ‘irregular’ which went ‘unnoticed’ by the State-unit of the NHM, Chhavi Bhardwaj, Mission Director, said, “The colleges recruited an extraordinary number of medical officers, staff nurses and paramedical staff without taking any sanction or permission and intimating us. At the NHM, we only open super speciality positions for our maternity and child health programmes. We didn’t given them [colleges] any sanction to recruit doctors nor issued a notification to that effect.”

Given that the officers were threatening to go on strike, she said, “A one-time permission for payment of dues has been granted only up to June 30. “We have released the payment on Wednesday,” she said.

Stating the Sagar college had just 41 admitted patients, she said, “The entire staff are supposed to be giving service to them. We have informed them clearly no additional human resource must be recruited without reasonable grounds. It should be made clear why they were done in the first place despite these colleges having excess staff. Otherwise, the doctor-patient ratio goes for a toss.”

Confirming that payments had been released, State Medical Education Commissioner Nishant Warwade said, “There should have been timely communication by the colleges. The State government is of the view that whoever has worked for COVID, we will of course honour them. They are our warriors.”

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 2:19:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/denied-pay-for-three-months-67-government-medical-officers-in-madhya-pradesh-go-on-strike/article31908716.ece

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