BENGALURU: At a time when states are pulling all stops to ensure that medical personnel are available without interruption for Covid-duties, like increasing the stipend of resident doctors by as much as 40%, Karnataka, which collects the highest fees for post-graduate courses among all medical colleges in India, pays a meagre of Rs 40,000-55,000 per month as stipend. In contrast, some states like Jharkhand pay as high as Rs 85,727.
The resident doctors, who are PG medical students pursuing courses over three years, are irked, pointing at Karnataka government’s ‘insensitivity’ towards doctors’ financial condition ever since Covid-19 struck. They are demanding an increase in stipend, fee waiver for this academic year, and delisting medical colleges in the state from Covid-19 duties. “There were no academics for us last year, yet we were asked to pay Rs 1 lakh as tuition fee and have such less stipend too. What are the ‘special academics’ that we are getting which other states are teaching for as meagre as Rs 3,000 for its medical students? We have been slogging in Covid wards,” said Dr Namratha C, president, Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors.
Dr Sandhya R S, a PG doctor, said, “There are many specialised surgeries, including paediatric care, which happen at Victoria Hospital. But with Victoria turning into a Covid-19 hospital, if we don’t get to learn from treating non-Covid patients, what kind of doctors will we be in society?”
Dr Namratha said several petitions to the State Government to refund their fees for 2020-21 and fee waiver for 2021-22 have been ignored. “Despite several correspondences, our voices haven’t been heard,” she says.The doctors have planned a symbolic protest from June 21. They allege that Health and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar has paid no heed.
The minister told The New Indian Express, “The stipends were hiked by 40% last May, which had been pending for five years. House surgeons, who were earlier paid Rs 20,000 are now getting Rs 30,000; first-year PG students are getting Rs 45,000; second-year students are getting Rs 50,000, and third-year students are getting Rs 55,000. The hike for first-year super-speciality students ranges between Rs 40,000-55,000, between Rs 45,000-60,000 for second-year students, and between Rs 50,000-65,000 for third-year students. This has benefited more than 6,000 students. With the second wave receding, they will get clinical practice in their respective specialties.” But he refrained from commenting on fee waiver for the academic year.