THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A section of postgraduate medical students have decided to strengthen their protest by boycotting all services except Covid duty from Friday. Emergency services, including ICU, casualty and labour room, in medical college hospitals are likely to be affected.
The state executive committee of Kerala Medical Post Graduate Association (KMPGA) said they have decided to go ahead with the strike in the absence of a written assurance from the health minister on their demands.
They demanded that the government issue an order expediting the appointment of temporary staff to ease their workload, push the Centre to speed up NEET-PG allotment and reinstate the 4% annual salary hike of resident doctors.
At the same time, Health Minister Veena George on Thursday warned of action against them under the Epidemic Diseases Act. The PG students started the strike on December 1. Veena held conciliatory talks with the KMPGA on December 8 and promised them of action to ease the duty burden.
The state committee which discussed the issues with the minister declared that the protest was being called off on the basis of the minister’s assurances. The association also announced the dissolution of its state committee on Thursday.
However, a section of PG resident doctors formed a state executive committee under KMPGA and decided to go ahead with the protest till they got an order from the department. Their job burden increased due to the delay in the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) PG counselling, 2021. An entire year has been lost due to the pandemic and the reservation policies of the Centre. As a result, there is a shortage of around 1,000 PG resident doctors.
The striking doctors wanted the government to recruit Non-Academic Junior Residents (NAJR) who are qualified MBBS graduates to fill the gap as early as possible.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) whose members work in government hospitals under the Directorate of Health Services, decided to continue their protest as the government could not offer an assurance to resolve their pay anomalies. They held a meeting with Finance Minister K N Balagopal and the health minister on Thursday, and announced that their indefinite protest will continue.
In view of the duty boycott by resident doctors, the Kerala Government Medical College Teachers’ Association (KGMCTA) said the services in medical colleges will be affected from Friday. It urged the public to come to the medical colleges for treatment only in case of emergency till the strike ends. The organisation said the strike was for a just cause and expressed solidarity to the striking residents.
Meanwhile, medical college authorities started evicting striking students from the college hostels in the evening. In Thiruvananthapuram, as many as 200 students gathered outside the casualty wing along with their belongings to stage the protest at 10 pm.
“The principal said the order has been issued based on the directions from the health minister’s office. Only the residents on Covid and emergency duties have been spared for the time being,” said a resident doctor in Thiruvananthapuram medical college. Similar protests were held on MCH campuses in Kochi, Thrissur and Kozhikode.