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Medicos to shun COVID emergency duties too

Protesting junior and senior resident doctors demand bed allotment at NIMS for virus-hit HCWs

In spite of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s assurance to implement a 15% hike in their stipends, junior and senior resident doctors have decided to go ahead with the boycott of emergency services in government hospitals from Thursday.

As a result, both COVID and non-COVID emergency services are likely to be hit as over 3,100 doctors will be on strike. They began boycott of elective duties from Wednesday itself. Health department officials have made arrangements to ensure the services are not affected.

Though the State government reached out to them on Wednesday, members of Telangana Junior Doctors Association (TJUDA) and Telangana Senior Resident Doctors Association (TSRDA) said on that not all of their demands were met.

They sought a written assurance that beds at Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) would be allotted if any healthcare worker (HCW) or their family members needed COVID-19 hospitalisation. They wanted State government to issue ex-gratia in case of death.

The junior doctors and senior resident doctors attend COVID duties at various levels, including in ICUs. The decision not to attend duties during the peak of pandemic second wave has come under criticism from a few sections of the society as well as senior doctors.

Charged up members of TJUDA held a press conference in Hyderabad on Wednesday where they gave reasons for boycotting duties in these tough times. They also questioned why politicians checked into corporate hospitals for COVID treatment and also why Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao underwent CT Scan at a corporate hospital instead of at the State-run Gandhi Hospital.

President of TJUDA-Gandhi Hospital unit, V. Mani Kiran Reddy said that their parents too have co-morbidities such as high blood pressure and high sugar levels and are worried that they might pass on the virus to their family members. “We have boycotted duties at this time since we are alive and can voice our issues. We don’t know if we will be alive tomorrow. We want assurance from the government that they will take care if something were to happen to us,” Dr Mani Kiran said.

TJUDA advisory committee member M. Rajeev said that while lockdown has been implemented to save lives of people, they have boycotted duties to save themselves. He added that if they get involved in finding a bed for a family member with COVID, work pressure on their colleagues increases. “A written assurance that bed will be allotted at NIMS will help us focus on work. Our family members ask us what is the use of holding the job if we are not alive,” he said.

Asked why they don’t get admitted to government hospitals, Dr Rajeev said doing so at Gandhi Hospital would mean depriving poor patients of beds. “Money has to be paid for treatment at NIMS. The State government can take care of the expenses. We are providing free service and are requesting free treatment,” he said.

Till the time of going to press, discussions about boycotting emergency duties was under way as there was some difference of opinion among TJUDA members.

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