Talks between docs, Govt fail to break deadlock

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, July 5: The strike by the Residents doctors of Government Medical College Srinagar and its Associated Hospitals today affected patient care for third consecutive day here as the talks between the striking medicos and Government failed to break the impasse.
Around 1100 Resident Doctors working in the Government Medical College Srinagar’s SMHS hospital, GB Pant Children’s hospital, Chest Disease hospital, Lal Ded Memorial Maternity hospital, Bone and Joints hospital and Psychiatric hospital, are 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.
However, Government invoked ESMA and suspended 63 doctors and terminated three including president RDA Dr Irfan Qayoom Mir. After hectic negotiations during the day between RDA and Commissioner/Secretary Health, Dr Pawan Kotwal, the doctors agreed to resume their duties in the emergencies of the hospitals if the suspension and termination orders of the doctors are revoked.

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The Government agreed to revoke the orders except that of termination of  president RDA Dr Irfan Qayoom Mir and suspension of vice president Dr Faizan. The president and vice president were ready to resume the emergencies but the Association declined it and said that unless all the suspension and termination orders of doctors are not revoked, they won’t resume their duties.  The Government only revoked the suspension of 32 doctors and termination of the two today while rest of the orders were not revoked.
The Commissioner/ Secretary Health agreed that the 7th Pay Commission will be implemented for Resident doctors but rejected their demand that their salaries will be brought at par with the Resident doctors of SKIMS hospitals.
They said that the Government in principal had agreed last year that the salaries of the Resident doctors will be brought at par with those of SKIMS Srinagar.
The Resident doctors said that they were planning to start emergency from the lawns of the GMC Srinagar but the administration didn’t allow them. They said that they don’t want the emergencies should suffer and blamed Government for it.
And as the Resident doctors strike continued in Government Medical College and its Associated Hospitals, there has been increase in the patient rush to the SKIMS Hospital Bemina.
Principal SKIMS Medical College Bemina, Dr Riyaz Untoo, told Excelsior that due to the strike by the Resident doctors in GMC hospitals, the number of patients per day in the OPD of the hospital has crossed 3400 which is normally around 1500. He said that the number of admissions have also gone up from an average 70 to 115.
He said that despite limited resources, hospital has put 50 extra-beds in the corridors to deal with the exigency. He added that the hospital is mulling to start additional OPD from a waterproof tent that will be installed in the hospital premises in case need arises.
Dr Untoo said that staff and the Faculty have been directed to work for extra hours to cater to the patient rush. He said that hospital will take all necessary measures for the patients so that they may not have to suffer due to the Resident doctors strike.
In the meantime, president EJAC Abdul Qayoom Wani said that invoking ESMA on employees have always yielded negative results.  He said that instead of using pressure tactics to tackle the strike of the Resident doctors the Government should resume talks with them to redress their genuine issues so that the difficulties and sufferings of the patients and human loss can be avoided in Government hospitals of J&K.
The EJAC president urged upon the authorities of Health Department and the representatives of protesting doctors to shun the path of confrontation in the interest of patients. He also urged the authorities of Health Department to immediately reinstate the terminated striking doctors.
Wani lauded the role of doctors which they are playing in difficult situations to provide medical facilities to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.