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The postgraduate students of government medical colleges across Kerala are boycotting all services except Covid duty. The protest that started against delay in NEET-PG admissions has boiled over to a crisis wherein the functioning of services such as ICU (intensive care unit) and labour rooms have also taken a hit.

The protesting doctors have raised three demands and refused to budge despite the government accepting part of their demands. Here are the three major issues that have created a medical crisis in the state:

APPOINTMENT OF NON-ACADEMIC JUNIOR RESIDENT DOCTORS

The PG students or the junior residents often share the workload across various family health centres and first-line treatment centres. The protest began with the demand for fast tracking NEET-PG allotment. Without their juniors, PG students often have shared major workload spending close to 20 hours in shifts. This continued during the second wave of Covid pandemic and the vaccination drives.

Now, even though the state government has decided to appoint 373 non-academic junior residents, the students’ body claims that the health centres suffer from a lack of manpower and the newly recruited doctors would only comprise one-fifth of the required strength.

The protesting doctors are demanding that the government should announce a deadline to complete the appointment procedures of junior residents.

In a press conference on Monday, Kerala Health Minister Veena George urged the doctors to return to service and call off their strike. George said the government accepted all their demands.

The PG students deployed in first-line treatment centres will be withdrawn to reduce their workload, George said. The students and the minister are slated to have a meeting to discuss the issues.

RESTORATION OF 4% ANNUAL SALARY HIKE

The Kerala Government Medical Officer’s Association (KGMOA), the organisation representing all categories of doctors in service, joined the protest. They demanded restoration of salary and other benefits. According to reports, the Kerala government had withdrawn various benefits during the pay revision in October.

In a release, the KGMOA said that they would hold a standing protest in front of the secretariat until demands were met.

Addressing their concerns, George said pay revisions and other stipend-related issues had been forwarded to the finance ministry. Necessary action will be taken soon, George said.

However, the association and the students seek a written agreement and is not willing to work on slashed wages.

FAST TRACK CASE IN SUPREME COURT

The NEET-PG counselling was put on hold due to a plea challenging the reservation criteria in the Supreme Court. The court is yet to pronounce judgment on EWS-OBS reservation in NEET admissions.

The plea challenged the Medical Counselling Committee (MCC) decision to provide 27 per cent reservation to OBC and 10 per cent to students from economically weaker sections in the all-India quota. The MCC will hold the admission counselling once the matter is resolved.

The protesting students are demanding that the state government should approach the Supreme Court requesting it to fast track this process so as to help reduce the burden on PG students.

The Kerala government has said is ready for talks with the protesting students. However, the protesters are insisting on a written assurance a demand the Kerala government is not inclined to fulfill. The protesting students also want the administration to refrain from any disciplinary action for holding protests.

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India today

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