Resident doctors across the country to go on strike from Saturday, demand NEET-PG counselling

Resident doctors associations from across the country on Friday announced that they have planned to go on strike from November 27, to protest the repeated delay in conducting NEET PG 2021 counselling

Representative image
Representative image

Ashlin Mathew

Resident doctors associations from across the country on Friday announced that they have planned to go on strike from Saturday, November 27, to protest the repeated delay in conducting the NEET PG 2021 counselling. It has been scheduled for January 2022.

Members of both Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA) and the Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) have announced withdrawal from OPD services from Saturday onwards.

“Our only demand is that NEET counselling should begin next week. Why should doctors suffer due to politics? It is our future. Usually, doctors come in by June after NEEET, now it’s already December and the government wants to delay it further,” said Dr Manish, FORDA president.

Resident doctors in hospitals across the capital – Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, RML Hospital, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, ESI Hospital, Maulana Azad Medical College and All India Institute of Medical Sciences – will be on protest.

RDAs from Rajasthan, Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar participated in the emergency meeting called by FAIMA and they have all extended support to the protest.

“If the government does not listen to our demands, we will step up the protest. We are contemplating curtailing elective surgeries from next week. Emergency services will not be suspended,” added Manish.

The Union government informed the Supreme Court on Thursday that it had decided to revisit the criteria of Rs 8 lakh annual income limit for the Economically Weaker Sections(EWS) and will take a fresh decision within 4 weeks. The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the court that the counselling for NEET wouldn’t take place until then.

Senior advocate Arvind P Datar, who is appearing for the petitioners, suggested that the implementation of the EWS quota could be postponed till the next academic year, as the admissions for this year have been already delayed.

“The NEET PG exam was delayed for eight months. The 2021 academic session has gone in vain. There is no chance that PGs and resident doctors will join before the end of this year. Our demand has been that the Chief Justice of India takes suo moto cognizance of this issue. The counselling of this year should continue with last year’s policy so as not to inconvenience students,” explained Dr Roshan Krishnan, FAIMA president.

The associations have complained that the court dates for hearing the case are also only in January. There should be immediate dates given for the hearing of the case, asserted the resident doctors associations.

The students of the 2021 batch will suffer and they will have to give their exams in 2024. “Their three-year course will now become two years. The first year is of utmost importance, but politicians rarely think of the careers of students and what will be the learning of those students who would have missed their first-year training,” said Krishnan.

Resident doctors across the country are working at 66% strength, pointed out Krishnan, and there has been an increase in workload at government hospitals. “No resident doctor has joined after 2020. This NEET PG exam was supposed to have been held in December 2020, but it was first postponed to April 2021, then two days before the exam to September 2021. The counselling will now be delayed until 2022. Students are suffering because of the government inefficiency,” added Krishnan.

The RDAs want the Prime Minister and the health minister to understand the issue and expedite the matter. “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 the proceedings in the matter of the already delayed NEET-PG 2021 counselling. However, there seems to be no respite to their physical and mental distress and the next hearing for the case has been scheduled for January 6, 2022. This will lead to the wastage of one while academic year for the residents,” the FORDA letter to the union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya read.

In the letter, they urged the union government and the Supreme Court to take note of the grievance of the resident doctors of the country and wanted them to fast-track the court proceedings on an urgent basis. “If there is no positive response, we will be forced to escalate the protest. The onus of any such unfortunate situation affecting healthcare services will on the concerned authorities,” pointed out the letter.

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