A recent tweet by a post-graduate doctor appointed at the Assam Medical College Hospital in Assam’s Dibrugarh has raised the issue of non-payment of salaries of the PG doctors of the state for the last three months. The graffiti posted on the tweet reads, ‘COVID Warriors to COVID Beggars’.
“We joined as doctors on COVID duty a month after we cleared our post-graduation from the Assam Medical College Hospital (AMCH ). We have been serving to the best of our capacities. Unfortunately, we have not received our salaries since 89 days. This is our first job in the profession and we are passionate about it. The COVID-19 challenge has given us a lifetime opportunity to learn things, but the cash constraints often land us in trouble and are a deterrent too,” says Dr Pratyush Mahanta, who did his MS in general surgery.
There are around 350 post-graduate doctors appointed for COVID duties at seven medical colleges in Assam, including the Guwahati Medical College Hospital. A post-graduate doctor draws a salary within the range of Rs 65,000 per month.
Doctors working at the Tezpur Medical College and Hospital, Farkaruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College Hosptial Barpeta and Diphu Medical College and Hospital have been partially fortunate as the salary for the month of September was recently released. For the rest of them in Assam Medical College & Hospital, Jorhat Medical College Hospital, Silchar Medical College Hospital and Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, there has been no such pay off, said Dr Pryatush.
According to the AMCH doctors, a letter from the [rincipal of the medical college has compounded their woes. The office order issued on October 22 asks all the post graduate doctors appointed by the Assam government to vacated the college hostels immediately and find accommodation outside within the first week of November.
The order copy mentions that the government of Assam has directed to restart courses from November 2020, the undergraduate students shall return to hostels hence it’s essential for the post-graduate students to move out.
“We did not enter the hostels after joining duties. We were there from the study days so there is no question of occupying somebody else’s hostel. Moreover, we are around 65 of us, where shall we find accommodation off that kind on such a short notice? Most people hesitate to give their property on rent to COVID doctors. There are girls among us as well. The salaries haven’t been paid,” says Dr Pratyush Mahanta. “When there is an emergency, as the junior most doctors, we shoot first. If we move out, it will be difficult for us for travel 10-12 kilometres to attend such emergencies,” added Pratyush.
The doctors have requested the principal-chief superintendent of the hospital to rethink and revoke the order in the interests of post-graduate doctors and the pandemic situation.
“We have been so engaged in our duties to even discuss the matter with our colleagues in other medical colleges and hospitals of the state. The post graduates from Silchar Medical College and Hospital have submitted memorandum too for the salaries. If our earnest pleas are not heeded to, we plan to wear back badges to work as a mark of protest,” said Dr Pratyush, who hails from the Jorhat district of Upper Assam.
According to one official from the AMCH, rule makes it mandatory for a post graduate to vacate the hostel for the next batch after he/she clears the exams. Moreover, these doctors are salaried people who can now pay for their own accommodation, the official said.
Assam Medical College Hospital is the oldest hospital in Assam and in the northeast and is considered to be a leading medical institution of Upper Assam.