On July 2nd from 8.00 AM, over three thousand resident doctors from all over Maharashtra , led by their association , Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), went on strike. Fed up with the continued failure of the health authorities to solve their genuine problems they were forced to take this step.
The main demands of the agitating doctors were
- Those doctors who were suffering from Tuberculosis (contracted while treating TB patients) should be given 2 months paid leave. At present there is no provision for such a facility and doctors who fall prey to this disease have to forego their pay if they do not have sufficient leave to their credit.
- Women doctors should be granted 2 months paid maternity leave. Again at present there is no provision for such a facility,
- Currently after completing their three years post-graduation in a specialized discipline, they have to execute a bond to serve in a public hospital for one year. But they are now being posted to any discipline, for example a psychiatrist may be posted in a gynaecological ward, a paediatric may be posted to an orthopaedic ward etc. Apart from the potential damage it may cause to patients health, such a practice makes a mockery of the three years of specialized training that they undergo. Hence their demand is to be posted to wards as per their specialty.
- Due to increasing number of cases of physical assaults on doctors, they are demanding installation of CCTV cameras at all critical wards such as casualty, ICU, labour wards etc. and provision of proper security for them while performing their duties. Due to overall lack of facilities and overburden of the doctors ultimately it is the patients who suffer. But these patients and their families vent their anger on the hapless doctors.
- Implementation of the agreement between MARD and the Government in 2009 that every three years the stipend paid to the doctors would be revised in accordance with rise in cost of living. The last revision was in 2012. Hence this year a revision was due.
The authorities tried to browbeat the striking doctors and adopted the typical carrot and stick approach. They as usual assured the doctors that their demands would be looked into. But the doctors asked the authorities to give the assurance in writing. Then they threatened the doctors with punitive action. But the militant doctors were prepared even to go en masse to jail. And as usual the electronic and print media portrayed the agitating doctors in a bad light. They carried photos and reports of patients at hospitals who were being deprived of treatment due to the agitation of the doctors.
But seeing the militant unity of the agitating doctors, the authorities were forced to give in after one and a half days of the strike. They gave a written assurance that the demands of the doctors would be fulfilled.
MEL congratulates the militant unity of the resident doctors of Maharashtra in winning their fully just demands.