AHMEDABAD: At least 10,000 Gujarat government doctors on Monday went on an indefinite strike over their pending demands, including the regularization of ad hoc services, affecting medical services in government hospitals and primary health centers.
On the first day, services in government hospitals, primary and community health centers and hospitals run by the state health department’s GMERS (Gujarat Medical Education and Research Society) were crippled as doctors refused to care for patients.
“Nearly 10,000 government doctors across the state went on an indefinite strike beginning Monday after waiting for resolution to our demands that never happened. Government workers in CHCs, PHCs, district hospitals, six medical colleges and nine GMERS colleges etc. are all on strike as of today,” Gujarat Medical Teachers’ Association (GMTA) President Dr. Rajnish Patel said.
GMTA is one of the members of the Gujarat Government Doctors’ Forum – an umbrella body of associations of faculty members of GMERS, in-service doctors, ESICs and class 2 doctors, among others.
The striking doctors have demanded the maintenance and regularization of ad hoc services, departmental promotions and non-practising pay (NPA) in accordance with the Seventh Pay Commission, Patel said, adding that another key demand is termination of contractual appointments.
Another GMTA member said doctors had been trying since last November to ensure they didn’t have to go on strike and that their issues would be resolved through talks with the government.
“The government had promised that all our demands would be met by March 31, 2022. Following the assurance, we had called off our strike. But no such order was passed. We have no other choice but to resort to strike action,” said GMTA General Secretary Dr. Jayendra Makwana.
Long queues of patients have been seen at public hospitals due to a shortage of doctors, with most of them avoiding work.
Some resident doctors were deployed to civilian hospitals, but patients and their relatives had to wait hours for treatment.
Meanwhile, health workers at Panchayat level also gathered in the state capital, Gandhinagar, to discuss the salary issue, after which many were arrested by the police.
“We have saved people’s lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the state government is indifferent to our demands,” one protester said.