Health services were paralysed in Bathinda and other south Punjab districts on Monday as government doctors went on a three-day strike against the recommendations of the state’s sixth pay commission related to non-practising allowance and pension benefits.
Patients had no choice but to visit private clinics and hospitals as the outpatient department (OPD) and other basic medical services remained suspended in all government hospitals in the urban and rural areas.
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Doctors held demonstrations in support of their demands.
Bathinda civil surgeon Dr TS Dhillon said all emergency services, Covid-19 related work, including duty of doctors in isolation wards and vaccination, continued as usual.
The strike call was given by the Joint Punjab Government Doctors Coordination Committee, which has members from the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMS) and is supported by the Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association, Rural Medical Officers Association, Punjab Dental Medical Officers Association and Punjab Ayurveda Officers Association.
The state’s sixth pay commission has recommended reducing the NPA paid to government doctors from 25% to 20% and it has been delinked from the basic pay, triggering the protests.
Online classes at medical colleges suspended, too
OPDs, routine laboratory examinations in the civil hospitals of Mansa, Muktsar, Moga, Ferozepur and Fazilka districts remained closed on Monday.
Online classes for undergraduate and postgraduate medical courses and elective surgeries at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, were also suspended in support of the strike.
Bathinda-based Advanced Cancer Institute medical superintendent Dr Deepak Arora said doctors were attending to cancer patients at the OPD or those who needed chemotherapy and radiation.
“These treatments are considered as a medical emergency as the cancer patients have a crucial time-managed treatment protocol,” said Arora.