Reassured by CM Chavan's promise, doctors return to work
After holding their ground for almost a week, 12,000 doctors who had shunned work across Maharashtra reported back to their hospitals on Monday, bringing relief to ailing patients at Primary Health Centres (PHCs).
MAGMO president Rajesh Gaikwad, who had been on hunger strike for the last six days, broke his fast by accepting juice offered to him by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan
The Class II doctors from the Maharashtra Association of Gazetted Medical Officers (MAGMO) had been on an indefinite strike since July 1. The doctors decided to resume work on Monday, after Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan assured them that most of their demands would be looked into and processed in the coming months.
Significantly, the chief minister had provided similar assurances to the doctors when they had gone on strike in June as well. Even as the state agreed to process the demand for increase in pay of 6,665 permanent doctors up to Rs 1 lakh a month for some under the Dynamic Assured Career Programme (DACP) it has refused to pay arrears worth Rs 174 crore to the 1,418 doctors who have completed over four years in service and were eligible for arrears, according to MAGMO.
Explaining why the demand had been turned down, state public health secretary Sujata Saunik said, “Their demand for pay hike will be processed, but if we were to pay arrears as well, it would add a huge financial burden to the state.”
“Also, we will study the feasibility of regularising Ayurvedic doctors, and increasing the age of retirement from 58 to 62 years,” she added. During the strike, the state terminated the contracts of over 320 contractual doctors. “MAGMO has requested the CM that these doctors be reinstated. We are positive he will not disappoint us,” said Dr Rajesh Gaikwad, president, MAGMO.
MAGMO consists of a mix of MBBS, Ayurvedic and specialist postgraduate doctors, over half of whom are in permanent service, while the rest are employed on contractual basis. They serve in 34 district hospitals, 80 sub-district hospitals and 363 rural hospitals across the state in National Rural Health Mission, Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram and mobile medical units.