CHENNAI: Government doctors in Tamil Nadu are disappointed as their long pending demand for a pay hike finds no mention in the latest policy note of the health department released in recently. The 18-page policy note had various infrastructural plans for the health department which would be implemented at a cost of Rs 4,280 crore utilizing the funds under the 15th finance commission.
Dr A Ramalingam, Convenor, Federation of Government Doctors Association, said it is disappointing as there is no mention of implementation of GO 354 in the policy note, which provides a salary for government doctors as per Pay Band Four. The GO 354 provides doctors a pay-hike after completion of 5, 9, 11, and 12 years of service instead of the present 8,15,17, and 20 years.
“Instead of implementing GO 354, the government announced GO 293, which provides allowances to doctors. Allowances are important but the government needs to address the issue of pay-hike,” said Dr. Ramalingam. A section of doctors is disappointed because when they held a fast unto death protests in 2019, it was the present Chief Minister MK Stalin, who then was the opposition leader, who took part in the protests and assured that the GO 354 would be implemented when the DMK comes to power.
They also said that this GO was originally in 2009, during the previous DMK government. “We fought against the previous government as they did not implement this. But the status quo is continuing now,” said Dr. Ramalingam, adding that he is hopeful the government may at least implement it in the future.
Both the State and Union government doctors join the profession after MBBS with the same base salary of 56,100. However, after completion of 13 years, the latter earns Rs 1,23,000 while the State government doctor earns only Rs 86,000.
Dr S Perumal Pillai, Executive Member, Federation of Government Doctors Association said not implementing the GO 354 is a huge disappointment for all the 18,000 doctors in the State. “They have announced so many new projects for health department but all these will be successful only if the issues of doctors are addressed. The doctors stood in the frontline in the first and second waves and now they say a third wave is coming. It is high time our needs are addressed,” he said.
On the other hand, the government recently, in its GO 293 argued that the GO 354 cannot be implemented in the State as unlike the Union Government doctors, State doctors were allowed to practice at private hospitals too.