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UP Govt Increases Stipend for Medical Interns, But Concerns Remain

While the stipend has been increased, it will only be applicable from January 2021.

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India
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After strikes and protests, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to increase stipends for MBBS and BDS medical interns.

For the past many years, medical interns in UP have been paid a stipend of Rs 7,500 a month, which is about Rs 250 a day. This has now been increased to Rs 12,000 per month. There are about 40 medical colleges in the state (including government and private), which have more than 2,500 interns in total.

As the coronavirus pandemic hit, many of these doctors came out to protest while simultaneously discharging their duties. The Quint, has in the past, covered these protests. However, even after this increase, some doctors are expressing disappointment.

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'What About Arrears?'

Dr Farhan Sheikh, an intern doctor at Gorakhpur's BRD Medical College says that he's disappointed because the new stipend will only be paid from January. The doctors will not be getting arrears for the months when the pandemic hit.

“We have used all means to get out grievances across to the government. How will the government’s new decision benefit us? We will only get increased stipends for January, February and March. Our internship started last April, at a time when the coronavirus was ravaging the country. We have given everything in our fight against the disease at this time.”
Dr Farhan Sheikh, BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur

Dr Anjali Shahi, an intern doctor at the Maharani Laxmibai Medical College, says that the decision is a "lollipop" given to the doctor. Why can't the UP government pay their intern doctors at par with the central government, she asks.

“We are working as frontline workers for the last nine months. Banging utensils, and showering flowers does not run our house. We need money to look after our families. We are very disappointed.”
Dr Anjali Shahi, an intern doctor at the Maharani Laxmibai Medical College

Dr Piyush, an intern at the Lala Lajpat Rai Medical College, asks that when their internship is for 12 months, why are they getting increased stipends for only the last three months of their internship? This is a "sick joke" that is being played on the intern doctors, he says. "The Yogi government should re-think this decision," he adds.

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A Years-Old Demand

Intern doctors in Uttar Pradesh have been asking for an increase in stipend for a few years now. The doctor interns now hope that this minimal increase in stipend will not be where the protests stop. It is important note that interns working in hospitals under the central government receive Rs 23,000 a month as stipend. Recently, the Karnataka government increased its stipend to Rs 30,000. In June 2020, the West Bengal government announced a stipend of Rs 28,000, which was applicable from January 2020. In Punjab, the government increased stipends of doctor interns from Rs 9,000 to 15,000 in April 2020.

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In the 4.5 year-long MBBS course, 1 year is supposed to dedicated to medical internships. During the internship, the doctors have to work at various departments in medical colleges. In the times of corona, these interns are given level-1 medical work, which means that they are first point of contact for corona patients. At a time when they've spent many working hours in the service of patients, these interns hope that they're given their due and not just felicitated as "corona warriors".

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