Standoff between striking doctors, govt. continues

The strike by postgraduate medical students in government medical colleges across the State, which crossed 13 days, is set to continue as the standoff between the striking doctors and the government shows no signs of thawing.

Though on Tuesday it did look like the government was finally opening the doors to discussions with the striking doctors and that an amicable settlement might be reached, there were no formal discussions between both parties.

While Health Minister Veena George and the Additional Chief Secretary (Health) met the representatives of Kerala Medical Postgraduates’ Association (KMPGA) on Tuesday morning, the talk was later described by the medicos as just a prelude to a formal meeting, which was on a ‘friendly’ note. Official discussions with students will take place later, a communication from the Health Minister’s office said.

However, KMPGA leaders said in the evening that they had been waiting all day hoping that they would be invited for formal discussions on Tuesday itself. Since they had received no intimation from Ms. George’s office, they were forced to continue the strike, they said.

The KMPGA made it clear that they would not bow down under pressure and that they would continue their strike till their demands were met. Apart from the appointment of more non-academic junior residents to ease the inhuman workload that the junior residents were being put to since the past one-and-a-half years, the medicos are demanding the restoration of a 4% hike in the stipend. They also requested the government to send a formal communication to the Centre regarding the issues caused by the delayed NEET-PG allotment 2021.

Meanwhile, in a press release issued here, Ms. George claimed that the government had “kept its word” and had completed the appointment of 307 non-academic junior residents, who have already joined duty. The remaining persons would soon be appointed and hence the medicos should stop the strike and rejoin duty, she said.

Since last Saturday, patient care activities in all medical colleges have been in chaos.

The prospect of a continuing strike can totally derail all patient care activities as none of the institutions have adequate faculty to manage OP clinics, IP services, emergency wing, ICUs and COVID duty.

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