Junior doctors and senior doctors in Telangana on Wednesday boycotted COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 elective duties at government teaching and allied hospitals in the state. From 9 am on Wednesday, the doctors went on strike as the government did not address their demands. On Tuesday evening, the Telangana Junior Doctors Association (TJUDA) and Telangana Senior Resident Doctors Association (TSRDA) announced their decision to go ahead with their strike. The announcement by the associations said, “We TSRDA members took a unanimous decision to boycott all COVID related electives except ICUs and critical care unit services from 9 am on May 26, 2021.
Medical services that do not need emergency attention are referred to as elective duties. However, the associations have threatened to boycott COVID-19 ICU duties and non-COVID-19 emergencies soon if their demands are not considered.
1) Implementation of hike in stipends, pending from January 2020 instead of January 2021.
2) A 10% incentive for health care workers.
3) Allotment of beds and free treatment for health care workers and their families at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS).
4) Honorarium of 15% for Senior Resident Doctors.
5) Ex-gratia for the families of those killed in the line of duty.
“We have been putting forward our demands for a very long time now. When the pandemic started, they assured us that our demands would be taken care of and urged us to work in the existing circumstances. We have been sacrificing a lot and despite this, whenever we approach the Director of Medical Education, he doesn’t even listen to our demands and throws us out. This is why we are forced to protest today. We are demanding on the basis of the work that we have done. Despite our notice of a protest, no one has even reached out to us. They are not thinking of extending any benefits to us,” said a doctor from Government General Hospital in Nizamabad.
At the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS) in Gachibowli, senior resident doctors raised slogans in support of the protests called by the associations. At Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Adilabad, King Koti Hospital and several other hospitals in the state similar protests were reported.
Speaking about the recent hike in stipend by the Telangana government, TJUDA President Dr V Naveen said, “The recent stipend hike is just one out of the four demands put forward. The same has been pending from January 2020. There is no word about the other three demands. We have given enough time to them but they have failed to respond. No one from the government has called us for talks and to address our demands.”
According to the associations, MBBS interns who are called as house surgeons, post graduates and senior resident doctors working in government hospitals are part of the strike, which amounts to more than 2,500 people. Junior doctors and senior resident doctors play a crucial role in teams attending to COVID-19 patients at government hospitals.
Former Health Minister of Telangana, Eatala Rajender, who was recently ousted from his post, also supported the demand of the healthcare workers and urged the protesting doctors to reconsider their decision about boycotting duties.
“On behalf of the people, as someone who has been a part of your family until recently, this is an appeal to you. The services you have all provided during the coronavirus pandemic will be remembered in history. The pandemic is not over yet and the people will suffer if there is a strike at a time like this. I urge you to reconsider the decision about the strike,” read a statement released by Rajender.
He also urged the government to look into the demands of the doctors. “As long as I was the Health Minister, I always responded immediately to them and initiated negotiations to ensure no inconvenience was caused to the people. I urge the present government to also look into their demands and increase the stipends so that the strike will be called off.”