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Junior doctors threaten strike against govt. decision

They oppose increase in retirement age of teaching doctors; Cabinet meeting scheduled to be held on Tuesday

Members of the Telangana Junior Doctors Association (TJUDA) threatened to launch indefinite boycott of medical services if Government Order is issued announcing increase in the retirement age of teaching doctors.

The Cabinet meeting is scheduled to be held on Tuesday.

In a representation submitted to Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department, A. Santhi Kumari, on Friday, the TJUDA said that they would launch an indefinite strike if a GO in this regard wass issued.

On Saturday, the association’s Osmania Medical College unit served notice on Osmania General Hospital superintendent B. Nagender stating that they would boycott elective duties (out-patient and elective surgeries) on Monday. It was learnt that the members of TJUDAs in other government hospitals too served the strike notice.

The decision to increase the retirement age of teaching doctors from 58 to 65 years was approved by the State Cabinet in May 2018. However, it was not implemented after protests were staged by associate professors. Officials said it could not be implemented thereafter as Model Code of Conduct was in force.

Soon after Health Minister Eatala Rajender re-announced the decision on Friday, junior doctors (medical students pursuing MBBS and post-graduation) were agitated and said they would be at a loss. The State Health Department officials cite lack of eligible candidates for recruitment to posts of professors as reason for the decision. Officials said that while 3,207 professors, associate professors, assistant professors, tutors and civil assistant surgeons were required in government medical colleges, there were vacancies for 1,703 posts.

A qualified doctor joins government medical colleges as an assistant professor, and gets promoted to associate professor, and there after as professor — depending on vacancies.

TJUDA chairperson P. S. Vijayender said that if the existing professors do not retire at 58 years, the posts will not fall vacant. An associate professor will not be promoted to professor post, and assistant professor will not be promoted as associate professor. “When there are no vacancies at assistant professor level, young doctors who are waiting for jobs in government hospitals will be deprived of it. With the decision, there will be no recruitment for the next 10 years at least,” said Dr Vijayender.

Dr. Mohammad Jahangir, member of JUDA, Osmania Medical College unit, too expressed the same view. “All young doctors who were waiting for a job in government hospitals will be forced to join corporate hospitals,” he said.

On Friday, TJUDA members submitted a representation to A. Santhi Kumari, Principal Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department, expressing their concerns. They requested the top health official to revoke the decision.

They suggested implementation of Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) according to which faculty can be re-desginated as ‘designate associate professor’ and ‘designate professor’ after meeting certain criteria and the designate faculty can be shown as faculty during inspections by the Medical Council of India (MCI) teams.

The TJUDAs also suggested implementation of calendar year recruitment and re-appointment of retired professors on contract basis in departments where there is requirement. “We also came to know that a few are misleading government that age hike is the only solution for the deficiency of teaching staff in tertiary care hospitals. If above steps are taken, there is no need for age hike," they said.

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