Tamil Nadu: It’s a Deepavali with empty pockets for mini-clinic doctors

It will not be a happy Deepavali for doctors at Tamil Nadu’s Amma mini-clinics, who have toiled at the frontlines through the second wave of the pandemic.

Published: 01st November 2021 06:13 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st November 2021 06:13 AM   |  A+A-

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Express News Service

CHENNAI:  It will not be a happy Deepavali for doctors at Tamil Nadu’s Amma mini-clinics, who have toiled at the frontlines through the second wave of the pandemic. As on Sunday, doctors from about seven districts had not received their salary for the last two months; those from another 10 districts haven’t received their salary for September.

Recruited during the devastating second wave at a monthly pay of `60,000, their salary arrears stand close to 1.2 lakh now. “The festival of lights will be grim for us. We have zero money to spend for our families. We risked our lives during the second wave, but the way we are being treated is inhuman,” said R Karthik*, a doctor at a mini-clinic in Madurai.

In Coimbatore, Vellore, Tirupur, Madurai, Karur, Tiruvarur, and Thanjavur districts, the doctors haven’t been paid for the last two months. “We travel up to 40km to the mini-clinic each day. Including food and travel, this alone costs us Rs 400 a day,” said Karthik.

Dr A John*, who works in a mini-clinic in Thanjavur said he was depressed. “We cannot even celebrate Deepavali happily, even after having made so many of the mega vaccination camps successful. We are depressed. We do not know how long this can continue,” he said.

A few days ago, some of the doctors took to Twitter to express their angst. On October 19, one of them tagged State Health Minister Ma Subramanian and wrote that he contracted Covid-19 while on duty, had done additional services such as controlling dengue, but had never received got any recognition in terms of pay.

Doctors to get full payment soon: Official

Questioned about the issue, official sources said the salary issues had been resolved in at least 16 districts, and are being resolved in the remaining ones too. “The fund crunch is being resolved and the full payment will be given to them soon. Everyone will get their arrears,” said official sources. However, the doctors continue to fret as the future of the mini-clinic programme itself hangs by a thread, with a meeting being held recently to decide on whether or not the State will continue with the clinics. 


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