Resident doctors begin protest again; emergency services halted

Resident doctors across country are back to protesting after a week of putting it on hold and they have accused govt of not listening to pleas for fast-tracking hearing of NEET-PG 2021counselling case

Resident doctors stage protest
Resident doctors stage protest

Ashlin Mathew

The resident doctors across the country and the National Capital are back to protesting after a week of putting it on hold and they have accused the union government of not listening to their pleas for fast-tracking the court hearing in the NEET-PG 2021 counselling case. The agitation was put on hold on December 9, 2021 on assurances from the government.

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 – have joined back the protest.

“We had put the protest on hold because the government had assured us that they would expedite the court hearing. PG students are losing a year and their future is at stake. This time we will not call off the protest on verbal assurances. We will call it off only once the NEET-PG schedule is released,” asserted Dr Manish, president of Federation of Resident Doctors Association of India (FORDA).

In a letter to the union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya, Federation of Resident Doctors Association(FORDA) pointed out that with the threat of the third Covid-19 wave looming large, the authorities should have fast-tracked the counseling and the subsequent admission process. “The plight of the overburdened resident doctors seems to have fallen on deaf ears of the authorities,” noted the letter. Instead, there is inaction and lack of urgency on the part of the government, alleged Manish.

The doctors have informed the government that they would be withdrawing from all services including emergency and surgeries. In anticipation, the health ministry, on Thursday, released a circular stating that all resident doctors who have been appointed on ad-hoc and contractual basis could not participate in the strike. The circular threatened them with disciplinary action “as deemed fit including termination”.

The Union government informed the Supreme Court last week 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.

The association has 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 association. The students of the 2021 batch will suffer and they will have to give their exams in 2024.

Earlier, Federation of All India Medical Association (FAIMA) president Dr Roshan Krishnan had pointed out that resident doctors across the country were working at 66% strength and there has been a substantial increase in workload at government hospitals.

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