CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu has been singing the praises of its doctors for their dedication to the profession, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet, many doctors recruited for Covid duty by the health department on a contract basis at the peak of the second wave told TNIE they have not been paid on time with some even being terminated from the job. Several of the doctors, working across Tamil Nadu, said they are yet to receive their salary for the month of August. In some cases, the contract has been terminated without settling the salary.
Ramesh*, one such contract doctor on Covid duty in Thanjavur district, said, as of September 17, he still hadn’t received his salary of Rs 60,000. “Even last month, there was a delay of 15 to 20 days. We are not sure when our salary will be processed. As of Friday, I am continuing to work without being paid,” he said.
Ramesh is part of the teams that are posted at mini-clinics, triage centres, and vaccination camps, depending on the requirement. “My centre is located about 90 km from my house. I had to wake up at 4 am last Sunday for the mega vaccination camp. I have been on Covid duty since May and that month’s salary came only by the end of June,” he rued.
Another doctor in Tiruchy echoed the sentiment. “Incentives, too, haven’t reached us,” said the doctor posted at a mini-clinic there, adding they were yearning for a holiday. Many of the doctors said they were roped in on completion of MBBS. They let go of their postgraduate dreams, hoping a permanent post would be in the offing. “The government can at least make us permanent staff. We did not apply for the PG entrance exams as this is a government job and we were serving people during the second wave,” said another doctor.
Five docs terminated within 100 days in Tiruppur
In Tiruppur Corporation, the situation has become dire. Services of five doctors, recruited by the civic body for Covid duty for a six-month-period, were terminated within just 100 days. “I joined on May 24 and we didn’t receive our salaries for three months, till August 31. Later, corporation health officials said we could leave the job and get the salary after that,” said Suresh*, a young MBBS doctor.
“We never got a joining letter, experience certificate or relieving letter. We worked for 100 days and they owe us around Rs 1.8 lakh in salary, but have given only Rs 55,000 so far,” he said. A newspaper notification put out by the Tiruppur Corporation in May this year had mentioned the six-month contract period for these doctors, with a monthly pay of Rs 80,000. Subha*, another doctor who served the Tiruppur Corporation, said she received a month’s salary after her contract was terminated mid-way.
“Another Rs 1 lakh is due,” she added. These doctors have raised a complaint to the Chief Minister’s Cell on the alleged ill-treatment and early termination of their contracts by the Corporation. Dr Shanthi AR, secretary of the Doctor’s Association for Social Equality, said, “The case of salary delay was there in Chennai, too, but it wasn’t an issue for a few doctors as they left the job mid-way and went to pursue postgraduate courses.
But the ones suffering are those, who stayed put at the job, hoping it would provide them a decent salary and experience.” Meanwhile, a top health official told TNIE, “The issue is being addressed as it is our duty to pay the doctors. Salaries have been rolled out to most of them and we have again intimated the concerned departments to address the issue.”