At least 10,000 government doctors in Gujarat began an indefinite strike on Monday for their pending demands including regularisation of ad-hoc services, affecting medical services in state-run hospitals and PHCs.
On the first day, services in government hospitals, primary and community health centres and hospitals run by GMERS (Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society) of the state health department were crippled as doctors refused to attend to patients.
“Nearly 10,000 government doctors across the state have gone on an indefinite strike from Monday after waiting for the resolution of our demands that never happened. Government employees at CHCs, PHCs, district hospitals, six medical colleges, and nine GMERS colleges, etc. are all on strike from today,” said Gujarat Medical Teachers’ Association (GMTA) president Dr Rajnish Patel.
GMTA is one of the constituents of the Gujarat Government Doctors’ Forum- an umbrella body of the associations of GMERS’ faculty members, in-service doctors, ESIC and Class-2 medical officers, among others.
The striking doctors have been demanding the continuation and regularisation of ad-hoc services, departmental promotions, and non-practising allowance (NPA) as per the Seventh Pay Commission, Patel said, adding that another key demand is stopping contractual appointments.
Another member of the GMTA said doctors have been trying to ensure since last November that they do not have to go on strike and that their issues get resolved through discussions with the government.
“The government had promised that all our demands will be fulfilled by March 31, 2022. Following the assurance, we had cancelled our strike. But no such order has been passed. We don’t see any hope about the order anytime soon. We have no option but to resort to strike,” said GMTA general secretary Dr Jayendra Makwana.
Long queues of patients were seen in government hospitals due to a shortage of doctors, with most of them shunning work.
Some resident doctors were deployed at civil hospitals but patients and their relatives had to wait for hours to get treated.
Meanwhile, Panchayat-level healthcare workers also gathered in the state capital Gandhinagar over the grade pay issue, after which many were detained by the police.
“We saved the lives of people during the COVID-19 pandemic but the state government is indifferent to our demands,” said a protester.