Andhra junior doctors call off strike after state agrees to meet demands
Junior doctors in Andhra Pradesh called off their strike on Wednesday, June 9, after the state government agreed to most of their demands. On Monday, the Andhra Pradesh Junior Doctors Association (APJDA) had served a strike notice for boycotting non-COVID-19 duties from Wednesday. Among their main demands were health insurance for frontline workers, COVID-19 incentives for all junior doctors and security from untoward incidents in hospitals
The Andhra Pradesh government has agreed to provide Rs 25 ex-gratia to the families of all doctors who died on COVID-19 duty, as well as bear the cost of treatment for doctors who contracted the coronavirus at any private hospital in the state. Additionally, the Andhra government has assured to consult with the Union government to waive off the 10% tax deduction at source (TDS) on stipends for all junior doctors. The state has also assured that doctors will be provided medical insurance cover under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), as well as increased security at hospitals to protect the doctors from assaults by patients’ kin, Dr Rahul Roy, President of APJDA, told TNM.
The APJDA had issued a strike notice on Wednesday, as after six months of negotiations with the state, they had not seen any action to fulfill their demands. The junior doctors, including post-graduate doctors and house surgeons, boycotted non-COVID-19 duties on Wednesday; however, they resumed duty a few hours later, when their demands were met.
The PMGKY provides medical insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh for all health workers, including doctors, ASHA workers, paramedics etc.“We have been informed that Andhra Pradesh will be the first southern state to implement the PMGKY scheme. The state government has assured that every doctor will be treated free of cost even in private hospitals. We had a demand for security while at work as there have been instances of assault on doctors. The state government has assured us better protection and has directed the state police to give us protection at hospital casualty and ICU wards,” Dr Rahul said.
The junior doctors had also demanded that the 10%TDS on their stipends be waived off. “The state government has assured that they will talk to the Union Finance Minister and the Income-tax Department, who will in turn hold consultation with other states that are yet to release these stipends. We hope that the Union government will make an announcement waiving the TDS on stipends nationally for junior doctors,” he added. The junior doctors have also sought a better pay hike in 2022, than the one currently being planned by the state government.