Srinagar, June 10: Despite being at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19 in Jammu and Kashmir, intern doctors at the government medical colleges have been deprived of the recently announced financial incentives by the UT administration leaving them high and dry amid the prevailing pandemic.
The health workers said the exclusion amounted to a virtual “dishonor” to their services.
Early last month, the J&K government announced monthly incentives of Rs 10,000 for Resident doctors, PGs and Medical Officers; Rs 7,000 for Nursing and Paramedical staff, and Rs 5,000 for drivers, sweepers and attendants. The incentives shall be applicable for at least three months effective from May 2021.
The intern doctors, however, have been left out from the benefits for unknown reasons despite being at the forefront of the prevailing pandemic, they told Greater Kashmir. Their exclusion from the list of COVID-19 warriors has spurred anger and disappointment among the fresh MBBS pass outs who are working tirelessly at J&K hospitals.
“We have been directly dealing with COVID-19 patients for quite a while now. Excluding us from the list is ironic and has discouraged us,” complained Dr Tabish, working as an intern at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS), Soura.
Tabish, an MBBS pass out from SKIMS Medical College Srinagar said that around 120 intern doctors work between six to twelve hours daily on an average and from monitoring emergency wards to collecting samples from COVID-19 patients, are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients and carry a high-risk factor of being infected.
According to Dr Anmol Palak, an intern at Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu, there are around 200 interns working at the health institution, but the exclusion from the financial incentives by the administration has left all of them hopeless.
As per Palak, the Dean of GMC Jammu had written a letter to Financial Commissioner Health and Medical Education over the interns' grievance, "but he hasn’t received any response from the officer till date".
“Despite working shoulder to shoulder with senior doctors in COVID-19 fight, the interns have been pushed into despair by the administration by excluding them from the incentives,” Palak said. He said the morale of the interns would have been boosted had the administration included them in the list of frontline workers in due credit to their services.
Dr Tajamul Islam, who is working as an intern at Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, too demanded they be included in the list of frontline workers. He also demanded an increase in the interns' monthly stipend. “Intern doctors in other states and UTs are getting over Rs 20,000 as stipend. Let the J&K administration also bring our stipend at par with them to start with,” Tajamul said. He said there are around 130 interns working at GMC Srinagar alone.
Greater Kashmir repeatedly tried to contact Financial Commissioner J&K Health and Medical Education Department, Atal Dulloo. But so far there has been no response to the calls and texts by this reporter.
Principal GMC Srinagar, Dr Samia Rashid while speaking to Greater Kashmir, acknowledged that the interns' exclusion from the financial incentives "may have been due to some lapses". “(Otherwise) we recognize the efforts put in by the interns during these times of desperation, " Dr Samia added.
The GMC Srinagar Principal said that the interns under the college's jurisdiction would be included in the list of frontline workers.