'Protesting for Our Right as Doctors After Gujarat Govt's U-Turn on Bond Policy'
The doctors' protest began on 4 August after a failed meeting with the state health commissioner.
It has been over a week since resident doctors from all over Gujarat, including from the districts of Surat, Vadodara, and Jamnagar, have been on strike over the government’s retraction of the 1:2 ratio bond agreement that was announced last year when the coronavirus pandemic hit. The strike was announced on the evening of 4 August after a meeting of doctors with the state health commissioner, wherein the latter denied that bond rule will be changed back to 1:2 from the pre-pandemic 1:1.
In April, when several doctors already under bond duty, were told to work at COVID-dedicated hospitals due to increased caseload. The state health department notified that the duration of duty of doctors who signed the bond, and were serving at COVID-19 hospitals, will be considered for double, ie 1:2 ratio of COVID duty to the bond-service period (The Quint has accessed this document).
Before the pandemic, it was a 1:1 ratio and that too in rural areas for a year after completion of our studies. Most of us have just given our exams while some are still studying, and we were told again that this 1:2 formula would be applied after exams are over.
Once cases dropped, the government backtracked.
“In 3 out of the 6 government colleges, this rule (1:1) had already been implemented and some had begun their duties accordingly. In other colleges in Surat and Ahmedabad, exams were still pending when the health department decided 1:2 formula will not be followed. This is a disparity and it is not acceptable to us.”A Resident Doctor, Vijay Medical College, Surat
The Gujarat government previously made a "U-turn" on the bond policy in November 2020, as reported by The Indian Express.
We tried to raise our concerns with the health commissioner, but he did not heed to our pleas. Following this, we decided to demand our rights via a strike. During the strike, as a pressure tactic, protesting doctors were told to vacate hostels and water and electricity was also cut off. In Rajkot and Baroda, women doctors were left without a roof in the night, which compromised their safety. A list was circulated with names of those protesting to vacate the hostels (The Quint has accessed this document).
On top of this, CM Vijay Rupani was quoted by the media as saying that doctors must honour the bond agreement now that cases are under control again.
Several doctors have considered this an insult and some from the Junior Doctors' Association returned the 'Corona Warrior' certificates handed to them by the government on Doctors' Day this year.
After an internal meeting with health department officials on 11 August, our demand for the residency period of one year after completion of the three-year postgraduate education to be counted as part of the compulsory medical bond service was agreed to for the 2018 batch only. The future course of action of those from 2019 and 2020 batches, who, too, worked in COVID wards during the second wave, hangs in the balance.
(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)
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