Over 3000 members of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) across the state will go on mass leave from April 23. MARD members told SMD that the mass bunking is in protest of the government apathy towards genuine demands from resident doctors of BMC and state-run hospitals.
According to MARD sources, despite many meetings regarding bond service (where doctors have to work in rural areas for one year after graduating) and revised stipends, all that they received from state government officials were verbal or written assurances that were never implemented. Resident doctors from 14 medical colleges across the state are taking part in this protest.
Speaking to SMD, a MARD member claimed the association had even sent a written request to the director of Medical Education and Research to arrange a meeting with the state health minister two weeks ago but their request had been ignored. Some of the demands of the resident doctors are about a revision in their stipend which has been pending since 2009, releasing a student doctor from a bond if a posting isn’t declared within three months of his or her results and an experience certificate after completing the bond service.
Doctors had organised a similar mass protest on January 24 at the BMC-run KEM, Sion and Nair hospitals and the state-run JJ hospital. Several surgeries scheduled at these hospitals had to be postponed on that day and the hospital staff had to perform extra hours of duty to ensure smooth proceedings.
SUNDAY MiD DAY has a copy of the letter submitted by MARD on Saturday, regarding their demands and the notice of the upcoming mass bunk. The letter states how the stipend provided to resident doctors in Maharashtra is less than what resident doctors in most other states get. It also states that the fee charged for medical education is high as compared to other states. The letter also complains about three incidents of attack against resident doctors in the past three months and demands for better security for doctors.
When contacted Dr. Santosh Wakchoure, President, Central MARD told SMD that they would call for an indefinite strike from April 23. On Saturday, Dr Wakchoure went to the Mantralaya to meet the Director, Medical Education and Research but he was not available and hence MARD members dropped their notice about the mass bunk at his office. “After our protest in January, the government had promised to fulfill our demands at the earliest. However, it has been over three months but there has been no concrete step taken to solve our problems. We even tried requesting an appointment with authorities to discuss our problems but there is no response from their side,” he alleged.