Karnataka doctors on grind for not being paid for months

Hundreds of senior resident doctors, who have been working in government medical college hospitals across in the state after completing their PG courses, have not been paid salary for two months. These doctors, who have been on Covid duty, were due to receive Rs 60,000 per month as stipend. But most have not been paid since October as it appears the government has not factored in the increase in senior residents reporting for mandatory one-year government service after completing their courses. Most of these doctors joined service in mid-September. While some old medical colleges in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Ballari and Hubballi have paid their doctors, some of the newer colleges like the ones in Shivamogga, Kalaburagi and Mandya are yet to disburse payment. Senior resident doctors (SRs) in 69 government hospitals (district, taluk, superspeciality and community health centres) and medical colleges across Karnataka haven’t been paid salaries for the past four months of the pandemic, according to a list shared by the Karnataka Association for Resident Doctors (KARD). Out of these, 16 hospitals come under the department of medical education while 53 are under the health department. Holding a symbolic protest on Monday, the KARD said many doctors didn’t receive pay for three months. As per the data shared by the association, 57 resident doctors at the Shivamogga Institute of Medical Sciences weren’t paid for three months, 38 at the Chamrajnagar Institute of Medical Sciences (CIMS) weren’t paid for two and a half months, 54 at the Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI) didn’t receive salary for two months, while 80 doctors of the KR Hospital, Mysore Medical College and Research Institute (MMCRI) went without pay for a month. Dr C P Nanjaraj, Dean, MMCRI, told DH that the doctors haven’t been paid only for November. “We have to compile the attendance from the places where they were posted. This will be done latest by December 15.” Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar assured resident doctors that their salaries will be released within a week. “The delay is due to technical reasons,” he said. Until then, the administrative bodies of the colleges have been instructed to pay the doctors. Dr Caron Harshitha, Forensic Medicine SR at CIMS, told DH that the doctors were entitled to Rs 60,000 per month. “We are posted to rural areas where we have to fend for ourselves with no accommodation and pay.” The file has not even moved in a few colleges, said Dr Dayanand Sagar, president of KARD. “Salaries haven’t been credited even once. At BMCRI, we have been told that the stipend for two more months will be credited soon,” he said.

Covid work outside the hospital demand The doctors have also demanded allowance for Covid work outside hospitals. As academic activities came to a grind in the past nine months, they demand a refund of their fees (junior residents have paid Rs 1,20,000, superspeciality residents have paid Rs 2,30,000) for the current academic year. For MBBS house surgeons who are doing compulsory rotatory internships, there are no guidelines on when their internship will come to an end. They have been told that it may be extended by three to four months. These students have to prepare for MD or MS entrance exams but are engaged in endless Covid work, they say. Dr Gayatri V, a BMCRI house surgeon, said, “Internship is a training period when we have to do undergo mandatory training in hospital services for 365 days, which we have competed. But here, we’re doing only Covid. We want the skillset that a normal merit student possesses. We want clarity on when our internship will end.” Dr Namrata C, a postgraduate student of BMCRI, said that in the past nine months, the government has failed to recruit doctors for Covid duties and has exploited postgraduate students. “We demand medical colleges to be exempt from Covid work,” she said.

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