3 docs terminated, 33 suspended as Govt invokes ESMA

Fayaz Bukhari
Srinagar, July 4: A day after strike by Residents doctors of Government Medical College Srinagar and its Associated Hospitals affected patient care, Government today invoked Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to deal with the exigency suspending 33 doctors and terminating three of them.
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“The Government can’t allow the hapless patients to suffer and in order to ensure that there is no disruption of healthcare services, it has been decided that ESMA would be invoked to deal with the strike called by the medicos,” a senior officer in the Health and Medical Education Depart-ment said.
He said ensuring adequate healthcare services has become more imperative especially in view of the flood alert sounded by the Government due to inclement weather conditions.
Earlier, 1100 Resident Doctors working in the Government Medical College Srinagar’s SMHS Hospital, GB Pant Children’s hospital, Chest Diseases Hospital, Lal Ded Memorial Maternity Hospital, Bone and Joints Hospital and Psychiatric Hospital, went on strike to press for their demands of bringing their salaries at par with the doctors working in SKIMS hospital, proper security and canteen facilities.
The Principal of the Medical College Srinagar today (order No. AR-MC/R/D/PG/1477-1500/MC dated 04-07-2018) terminated three doctors including president of the Resident Doctors Association, Dr Irfan Qayoom Mir and its two members Dr Aijaz Baba and Dr Ramiz and suspended 33 doctors mostly RDA members to deal with the striking doctors while as relieved one doctor. The doctors in response resigned en-mass through Resident Doctors Association.
In her order, Dr Samia said that the striking doctors were directed vide (Order No. Acad/1469-71/MC Dated 04-07-2018) to resume the duties but they didn’t respond to the order.
The order said that the doctors Administrative department has already issued orders for the implementation of the 7th Pay commission benefits for the Resident Doctors but they submitted another representation that they are being paid salaries at par with the SKIMS Resident Doctors.
However, the minutes of the meeting (No. PS/MC/17/928 dated 05-07-2017) issued by the Principal last year are contradictory to her order. In the minutes of the meeting it was agreed that their salary will be brought at par with SKIMS Residents. “A meeting was held with the Postgraduate students and the Registrars of Government Medical College Srinagar who have been on partial strike from 31st of August 2017 on the issue of disparity of stipend between them and with the counterparts in SKIMS Soura. The PG students get a stipend Rs 20,000/- Rs 21000/- and Rs 22000/- for first, second and 3rd year of their PG which was fixed way back in the year 2009 and which has not been revised till date.
Similarly, their Registrars who work on tenure basis for 3 years in GMC Srinagar are being paid Rs 37632/-“, read the minutes of the meeting.
“The Deputy Commissioner and the Director Finance Health and Medical Education Department had detailed discussion with these agitated Doctors (PG and Registrars) at GMC Srinagar on 1-9-2017 and where they assured them that their genuine and justified demands are already under due consideration of the Government and would be resolved soon. However, these students (PG and Registrars) insisted that they should be given assurance in this regard so that they can call off their strike”, the minutes read.
The minutes of the meeting said that the doctors were assured that their stipend will be at par with the SKIMS residents. “A group of these Registrars and PG students met the Principal Secretary to Government Health and Medical Education Department on 5-9-2017 at his office chambers where they were assured by the Principal Secretary to Government H&MED that the issue of bringing the stipend of the Registrars at par is already been taken up with the Finance Department and it would be resolved within days. However, the issue of bringing at par the stipend for the PG students would be processed expeditiously and the disparity would be removed and they will be given the stipend at par with SKIMS Soura”, read the minutes of the meeting.
“After this group of PG students and Registrars requested the Principal Secretary to visit the GMC Srinagar and convey to the agitating Registrars and PG students so that the strike would be called off in the interest of the patient care. The Principal Secretary visited GMC Srinagar personally and had a meeting with the striking PG and Registrars in the committee hall of GMC Srinagar in presence of Principal GMC, HOD’s and Deputy Commissioner Srinagar and he clearly told them that their demands for seeking parity with SKIMS is justified as this is in line with the MCI regulations and rules”, read the minutes of the meeting.
“The Principal Secretary also informed that he had on his own done analysis of the inflation factor and as per that analysis the total inflation since 2009 till 2017 is around 67.4% and Rs 20,000 of 2009 is equivalent to Rs 34295 of 2017. This may be taken with the Finance Department on the basis of these two important parameters to bring their remuneration at par with SKIMS”.
The president of the RDA Dr Irfan Qayoom Mir told Excelsior that they don’t want the patient care should suffer due to their strike but were forced to take the extreme step. He said that the decision of the Government is autocratic. He said that Principal should have supported the doctors as she and the Government had given assurances to the doctors for last two years.
Dr Irfan said that they had intimated the authorities 3 months back about the strike but they were given assurances that the demands would be met by July 3.
A letter (PS/me/18/534-28 dated 04-06-2018) written by the Principal GMC and Dean, Professor Samia Rashid read: “This is in reference to your letter dated 4-6-2018 regarding the subject matter referred above. In this context the matter was discussed with the Heads of Departments of Government Medical College Srinagar and also taken up with the Principal Secretary to Government, Health and Medical Education Department requesting therein for acceptance of the demands put forth by the Resident Doctors Association. The demands include Senior Residents/Registrars/Demonstrat-or/Tutors, Postgraduates and Junior Residents will be provided the same basic and grade pay with all allowances including NPA as has been provided to the Resident Doctors of SKIMS Soura with implementation of 7th Pay Commission recommendations and the stipend of interns will be revised”.
“After threadbare discussion and assurance by the Administrative department, you are informed that the genuine demands submitted by your association will be vigorously taken up with the all quarters for redressal of grievances of Resident Doctors Association. I was also assured by the Administrative department that the demands put forth by the Resident Doctors Association will be implemented in letter and spirit by 3rd of July 2018”, read the letter.
The Resident Doctors (Post Graduates) in the first, second and third year in the GMC Srinagar are being paid Rs 17000, Rs 18000 and Rs 19000 as basic pay besides allowances while as in the SKIMS hospital Srinagar the same PGs are being paid Rs 43, 000, 46,000 and 48 , 000 besides allowances respectively. And Senior Residents in GMC Srinagar are being paid Rs 20,100 as basic pay besides allowances while same senior residents are being paid Rs 67,700 as basic pay besides allowances.
In the meantime, protests rocked Lal Ded hospital this morning following intra-uterine death of a baby amid ongoing protest by the Resident doctors.
Scores of attendants assembled in front of the administrative block of Lal Ded Hospital this morning and called for restoration of services.
The protestors alleged that many babies had died at the hospital due to unavailability of doctors. “Why were we referred to this hospital if there are no doctors available here? They (administration) should put up a lock on its gates,” an attendant of a patient said.
Many patients said even after being admitted at the hospital for a couple of days, they were asked to go back. “Is this our fault that doctors are on strike?”, said an attendant.
Resident Doctors at all Government Medical College Hospitals, including Lal Ded, are on indefinite strike since July 3. At least 30 doctors are posted at this maternity hospital. All of them were unavailable, forcing closure of antenatal services, routine investigations and patient services.
Medical Superintendent LD Hospital, Dr Shabir Siddiq said all peripheral hospitals had been intimated about the on-going strike of doctors and were directed to refer only high-risk patients.
Meanwhile, in Jammu all the Resident Doctors of Government Medical College and Hospital, Jammu and associated hospitals went on a day-long strike protesting against termination of their fellow doctors in GMC Srinagar.
Since morning, all OPD operations as well as Ward services in GMC, SMGS, Super Specialty and Chest Diseases Hospitals were suspended by Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA), Jammu against the termination of Resident Doctors of GMC Srinagar, who were on strike since yesterday for the salary hike at par with SKIMS Soura (Srinagar). However, emergency services were not shut down in view of ongoing Amarnath Yatra and flood situation in the State.
The strike had severely impacted the healthcare delivery services in the Medical College and associated hospitals. Though the senior doctors were making all efforts to ease rush of patients by overworking, yet the consequences of the strike were clearly visible as long queues of patients were also seen in OPDs of almost every department. The indoor patients also faced problems due to the strike of junior doctors.
When contacted, Principal, GMC Jammu, Dr Sunanda Raina, said that she is negotiating with the junior doctors to suspend their strike in view of patient care and hoped that they will resume their routine work from tomorrow morning.
However, president, RDA GMC Jammu, Dr Sourav Katoch, said that they have conveyed their concerns to the Principal and if a favourable decision is taken tomorrow, they will suspend their strike otherwise they will have no option except to continue their strike.