Upset With Gujarat Govt Response, Doctors Suspend COVID, Emergency Services

The strike began on 4 August, but was called off for a day, in view of the meeting with the government on 11 August.

3 min read

Just a day after resident doctors in government hospitals in Gujarat called off their strike, the Junior Doctors’ Association (JDA) of Gujarat released a statement on Wednesday, 11 August, saying that they will resume their strike, after not receiving a “better response” from a meeting with the Gujarat government.

Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel on Tuesday, 10 August, had assured the resident doctors that if the protest is withdrawn unconditionally, a committee to address the issues and grievances of those aggrieved will be formed. The JDA on Wednesday had welcomed the government’s move as a “positive response regarding our rightful demands”, Indian Express reported.

The resident doctors are seeking for their residency period of one year after completion of the three-year post-graduate education, to be counted as part of the compulsory medical bond service.

A JDA BJMC representative was quoted as saying, “In Maharashtra, the residency period is counted as part of the bond service and we too want the same.”

Meanwhile, a delegation from the Indian Medical Association met resident and intern doctors at the civil hospital, Ahmedabad, and decalred support for the strike.

What the Statement Said:

The JDA met with government officials on Wednesday at Gandhinagar. The meeting was conducted with ACS, health commissioner, and the senior faculties of government medical college.

However, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel was absent during the meeting.

“During the meeting, all six points of the JDA demands were discussed, but the government officials were agreeing partially to only one of the demands that is considering senior residency equal to bond, that too only for the 2018 batch (recent pass out batch).”
JDA Statement

The doctors’ association added that they were expecting better response from the government and hence had agreed to start the emergency and COVID services on Wednesday.

“But as government officials are not willing to come to terms with our demands fully,” the statement added, “we are calling off the emergency and COVID services by effect from tomorrow 8 am (Thursday) and the strike will continue till all demands are met."

Why Are ‘COVID-Warriors’ Protesting?

The strike began on 4 August, a day after a heated exchange between GDA office bearers with state Health Commissioner Jai Prakash Shivahare.

A JDA member was quoted as saying, “We have faith in our demands and we believe that what’s promised to us should be extended to us. It pains us that we have to fight for it just 1.5 years after the literal showering of flower petals as COVID warriors,” Times of India reported.

Meanwhile, an official close to the development was quoted as saying, “The demand for the 1:2 bond period was for the COVID duty. As the cases have reduced steadily from mid-May, the officials have refused to term the duty period as double for the calculation of bond period.”

Forced to Vacate Hostel Rooms: JDA

Patel had reportedly warned the doctors on 5 August, of action under provision of Epidemic Act if they failed to join their duty.

Further, on Friday, 6 August, the JDA alleged that the state government forced the medical college authorities to get their hostel rooms vacated as a pressure tactic against the resident doctors.

Following Patel’s address this Tuesday, a circular was issued through the office of the dean of MP Shah Government Medical College in Jamnagar, asking medical interns who joined the strike in support of resident doctors, to be “present on their duty immediately otherwise their internship period will be extended, which should be taken seriously by each intern”, Indian Express reported. A copy of the circular was also marked to the district collector and district police’s office.

(With inputs from The Times of India and The Indian Express.)

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