Karnataka contract doctors say they’ll discontinue services if not regularised by July 8

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had earlier assured the contract doctors that their jobs would be regularised, but doctors allege that no action has been taken since.
Doctor with mask
Doctor with mask

On the occasion of National Doctors’ day, hundreds of contract doctors wrote to the state government that they will not be offering their services beyond July 8, as their jobs have not been regularised despite assurances. This is projected to affect lakhs of people who avail government health services in rural areas, the statement signed by the doctors on Wednesday said.

Currently there are 507 doctors who are working on contract basis in Karnataka. Last month, the doctors had threatened to resign en masse if their jobs were not regularised. Though there are about 30% medical doctors’ posts vacant in the state, the government has hesitated to regularise the contract doctors as there is a huge pay disparity between the two posts, for doing the same work. On June 17, the state government had asked them to withdraw their resignations, which they had given in protest, and assured the they would be regularised. However, the doctors allege that no action has materialised in this regard.

In a two-page statement, the contract doctors wrote that they are “working to the best of their abilities putting their life on the line to fight against COVID-19. These doctors have been doing the same work and maintaining all the responsibilities which a regular doctor does, since many years, for half the salary. Even with a huge pandemic like COVID-19 running rampant, these (contract) doctors are working day and night without any job security.”

“[We have been] put into such a situation that we have become helpless and with a grieving heart we have taken this decision,” the statement adds.

The letter noted that most of the contract doctors were from rural Karnataka.

The statement also noted that the government was initially regularising contract doctors after they finish three years of service, but that is no longer happening. “Government was regularising contract doctors from 2007-2017 and it has been halted since then. We made a request to regularise us in our own respective working places as the government was doing earlier. We have been submitting multiple requests to the authorities since 3 years,” the statement said.

It also noted that they were being pressured to quit by their families, as there was no job security, and they were providing their services at a risky time. “As of now plenty of doctors and health care professionals have succumbed to COVID-19. We are pressurized by our scared family members to resign as there is no job or life security for the work we are doing. Even we are ready to put our life on the line and do the duty. That is the reason we requested for regularisation of our services. But we are sad and de-motivated as the government hasn't taken any action. Superficially it appears as if the government doesn't need us. Based on that we are requesting the government to relieve us from work immediately.”

The statement is signed off under the name of “Disheartened Contract Doctors.”

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