Four days after they began an indefinite strike, government doctors in Kerala came to an agreement with the Health Minister KK Shylaja and ended their agitation on Monday night.
The Kerala Government Medical Officers Association (KGMOA) and the Health Ministerâ€™s discussions went on for hours and they came to a consensus on some demands. It was decided that the out-patient timings will be extended till 6 pm in the state-run hospitals and that three doctors will be assigned to Family Health Centres (FHCs).
According to The New Indian Express, addressing the problems of shortage of doctors and availing leave for doctors on duty, the Health Minister said,"It will be ensured the FHCs will have three doctors in its rolls. Alternative arrangements will be ensured in instances where a doctor has to abstain from duty due to various reasons. For that, a reserve team to be managed by the respective District Medical Officers and District Programme Managers will be constituted."
The Health Minister told the New Indian Express that the department will consider the aspect of redeploying staff from centres where staff strength is relatively high to centres which have high patient turnout.
To study the demands on which a consensus is yet to be reached, a committee headed by the Health Secretary will be constituted and will soon hold talks with the associationâ€™s representatives. Dr Jitesh, General Secretary, KGMOA, told TNM, â€śStarting a committee to discuss the doctor-patient ratio is a pioneer effort from the government.â€ť
The announcement that the strike has been called off brought relief to patients. The last few days had been an ordeal for them standing in long queues, waiting for junior doctors to examine them.
As for the doctor at Kumaramputhur Family Health Centre in Palakkad, who was suspended when she refused to turn up for OP duty one evening thus triggering the strike, the KGMOA was told that if the doctor submits an apology and an explanation then the department might reconsider the disciplinary action against her.