MADURAI: Days after allopathy doctors were recruited temporarily in the district, AYUSH doctors who were recruited last year temporarily for Covid duty, at the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) and the Government Hospital for Thoracic Medicine (GHTM) at Thoppur were shown the doors on Tuesday.
Speaking to TNIE, a homoeopathy doctor said, "As many as 33 AYUSH doctors were temporarily recruited for posting on Covid duty at the GRH and GHTM, through a private manpower agency in June-July last year when the pandemic peaked during the first wave. While four of them opted for transfer, 29 doctors continued to work at the two hospitals under the control of the Directorate of Medical Education."
A Siddha doctor added, "AYUSH doctors who completed BHMS/BSMS were roped in by the government at a time when MBBS doctors were hesitant to take up Covid duty. We were recruited at a salary of Rs 60,000 per month, of which Rs 4,600 goes to the manpower agency. Although our work orders stated that we were being recruited for three months, our contract period was extended through oral instructions from the State Health Department."
The AYUSH doctors assisted the postgraduate doctors at the hospitals by way of oxygen management for patients - ensuring the right amount of oxygen supply for every patient, among other things, they said. "Now, the 80 medical officers (MBBS doctors), who were recruited last week, do the same work assigned to us, indicating that we have been replaced by them," the AYUSH doctors opined. The doctors also claimed that they were not paid their salaries for the past four months.
Another homoeopathy doctor, on condition of anonymity, stated that the temporary AYUSH doctors worked only in Covid wards, posted one week in the wards, the next week in-home quarantine, returned to the Covid wards in the third week and the cycle continued. Meanwhile, the department doctors are posted in non-Covid wards as part of routine duty, giving them a respite.
The Siddha doctor said, "It came as a rude shock at a time when we were hoping to get another extension of service period, as the previous extension ended by May 31. There was no prior intimation."
A group of AYUSH doctors submitted a petition to Collector Dr S Aneesh Sekhar on Tuesday evening, seeking to appoint them alternatively at any other Covid Care Centres or Interim Covid Care Centres.
Dean Dr Rathinavel said that the termination of temporary AYUSH doctors posted at government medical colleges came as an oral instruction from the office of the Directorate of Medical Education late on Monday night. "Had it been a GRH-specific instruction, arrangements would have been made to retain them. But, their termination is a statewide decision," he mentioned.