Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
Over 500 contract doctors working across rural Karnataka in primary health centres, government quarantine units and COVID hospitals have threatened mass resignations if not made permanent.
In the first week of July, the government had increased the salary of contract doctors from Rs 45,000 to Rs 60,000, however reportedly urging them at the same time to drop their demand for regularisation.
The medical officers claim that until 2017, contract doctors had been regularly absorbed into the workforce by the state government, however, this process had halted.
While members of the Karnataka Government Medical Officers Association have been assured by authorities that they would be recruited via the Direct Recruitment Process (DRP) by awarding them an additional 2.5% for every six months served, the doctors are not convinced.
“They have only hiked our salaries. They have said in the same order that doctors should not come forward with a demand for regularisation. This has frightened and demotivated us even more. They government should support and help us to work more, but they are not doing that,” Dr Naveen Kumar PR, medical officer from Tumakuru.
‘No Job Assurance, No Health Assurance’
Working in villages and rural areas across the state, these medical officers serve in National Programmes, perform deliveries, conduct autopsies and are on COVID-19 duty as part of testing and treating.
“Please see this from a humanitarian lens. We are on coronavirus duty and we have put our families as a second priority to do this work. We don’t have job assurance or health assurance. If something happens to us or if any one of us dies, our family will be on the streets. Who will help them?” asked Dr Sneha Ganesh from Hassan.
“Till now, after completing 3 years of service, we would be made into permanent employees but now this has stopped. We have no job security. This is why we have tied a black cloth and we are protesting before the government,” said Dr Shanmathi Shyam from Mandya
‘No Timeline Provided by Govt’
While the doctors have been told that they will be hired via direct recruitment, they are worried that there has been no clear clarification on when this would happen.
“They said they will do direct recruitment for 1,250 posts and since we are already working on contract, we would be given priority in marking based on our experience. They said they would pass the order soon but we are also hearing news that there is no such DRP planned for this year so we are very confused,” said Dr Sagar from Mandya.
Stating that there was no intention to inconvenience the public or embarrass the government, doctors said that they were protesting out of helplessness.
“Everyone knows what a crisis it is and at this time, we are working in COVID care centres, quarantine centres and COVID-19 hospitals. We are helpless and we are in a dilemma. That is why we will tender mass resignations to appeal to the government,” said Dr Naveen.
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