Boycotting non-emergency services, junior doctors across several states participated in the nation-wide indefinite strike on December 3, Friday, protesting the delay in conducting counselling of NEET-PG 2021. The Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) and Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) – the two national associations of doctors – had urged doctors across the country to protest against the delay in admitting new students. The protesting doctors said that without adequate manpower, the students of second and third year are burdened with a lot of work.
Karthik, a junior doctor from Telangana’s Gandhi Hospital, who has been actively participating in the protest, said, “Nearly 40,000 students were to be recruited this year across the country, but the counselling is yet to commence. We are burdened with a lot of work because there is a shortage of doctors. Students of both second and third year are under severe stress because they are doing all the work. We are exhausted.”
Junior doctors from Telangana and Tamil Nadu joined in the national protest and refrained from performing non-emergency services and attending patients in the outpatient wards. In Karnataka, the doctors expressed their solidarity by wearing black badges, but performed their duties as usual. This, after the Karnataka Medical Education Minister Dr Sudhakar had assured of expediting the process of counselling.
#Telangana Junior doctors #TJUDA staged #protests at #GandhiHospital #boycott NON-EMERGENCY services (#OPD Elective services, Wards) from today in support of #FAIMA, #FORDA, and all other states #RDAs for delay in #neetpgcounselling by the Centre. #JUDA #Hyderabad #NEETPG pic.twitter.com/cyoEh1cVKC— Surya Reddy (@jsuryareddy67) December 3, 2021
In Telangana, non-emergency services have been boycotted in Gandhi Hospital (Hyderabad), Osmania General Hospital (Hyderabad), Kakatiya Medical College (Warangal) and in Nizamabad District Hospital. “Presently, we have boycotted non-emergency services, further decisions in this regard will be taken by FAIMA and FORDA,” Karthik said.
Meanwhile in Tamil Nadu, protesting doctors have announced plans to resume the non-emergency services from December 4, Saturday, following a meeting with the Director of Medical Education. “We have been protesting for the past three days. Today, the DME assured of providing additional manpower to address the crisis. After this, we have decided to resume services from tomorrow,” said Dr Keerthivarman, a member of Tamil Nadu Resident Doctors Association, from Stanley Medical College.
While the NEET-PG exams were held in September, the counselling is yet to begin. Originally, the counselling was to be held on October 26. However, because of the pending case with the Supreme Court over the Union government’s decision to provide 10% reservations for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) in the All-India Quota in admission for undergraduate and postgraduate students in medical and dental courses, the counselling has been postponed. It was in July this year, that the Union government announced 27% reservation for OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and 10% reservation for EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) in the All-India Quota scheme (AIQ).
The reservations were to be implemented for the current academic year. Presently, the hearing in the case has been postponed to January 6, 2022, and the Union government has assured the court that the counselling will not be held until it revisits its decision over the criteria of setting up an annual income limit of Rs 8 lakh for determining the EWS category.
In a statement issued on November 27, FORDA had said, “The already overburdened and exhausted Resident Doctors of the nation fighting at the frontline since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, have been waiting patiently till date for some positive outcome of Supreme Court proceedings in the matter of already delayed NEET-PG 2021 counselling. However, there seems to be no respite to their physical and mental distress, with the next court hearing scheduled on 6th January 2022.”
“To mark our protest against these repeated delays and postponement of counselling, following the discussion with multiple Resident Doctors’ Association representatives, FORDA calls upon Resident Doctors across the nation to withdraw from Out Patient Department services.”
Urging the Union government and the Supreme Court to expedite the counselling, they said, “In case there is no positive response from either side, will be forced to escalate our protest.”