BENGALURU: Overworked and underpaid, resident doctors across Karnataka are going about their duties, including looking after Covid-19 patients, while wearing black bands to demand a higher stipend. Compared to other states, resident doctors in Karnataka are paid a pittance, according to the Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors. While the stipend in Karnataka is Rs 35,000 per month, it is Rs 90,000 in Delhi, Rs 80,000 in Chandigarh, and Rs 60,000 in MP.
“We are frontline workers. Now, during this crisis, we are with patients for six hours. Even during other times, it is we who work in out-patient departments, emergency, and other departments and yet we are paid so low,” said a doctor at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute who requested anonymity.
Dr Dayanand Sagar, a resident doctor at Victoria Hospital, said that the Medical Council of India stipulates that stipends be hiked every year but in Karnataka, the last hike was in 2015.
“We have been demanding a hike for the past five years. The stipends of senior doctors is Rs 45,000. We want the government to increase the stipends of first year, second year, third year postgraduate students to Rs 60,000, Rs 65,000, Rs 70,000 respectively, and to Rs 75,000 for senior resident doctors,” he said.
In 2019, the government raised fees for UG courses to Rs 50,000 from Rs 12,000 and to Rs 1,30,000 from Rs 36,000 for PG courses. “We have been asking to reduce the fees, but it has been of no use,” said Dr Sagar. They had approached the CM and other ministers for a hike in their stipends, but haven’t heard from anyone. “We can’t go on a protest and stop working. Our patients need us. We will continue to work but we need a hike and a reduction in fees.”