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Friday, May 29, 2020

Chandigarh: On Covid duty, GMSH-16 interns demand stipend

Medical students are required to finish a one-year-long internship as part of their MBBS degree. However, these students receive a stipend only if they intern at the college from where they graduated.

Written by Chahat Rana | Chandigarh | Published: May 16, 2020 2:47:47 am
Make ICU at GMSH-16 functional within three weeks: HC to Chandigarh Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16. (File Photo)

MBBS interns from GMSH-16 posted on COVID duty inside the hospital and in affected pockets across the city have raised demands to receive a stipend for their work. Interns are especially riled up since one of them, who was posted in an emergency ward and dealt with a COVID-19 patient from Hallomajra, tested positive for novel coronavirus on Tuesday.

“It has always been a norm not to pay interns here, but these are special times. The pandemic has changed things and we are putting our lives out there every day. We are the main workforce for the hospital and we are being exploited and used as unpaid labour,” says an intern who wishes to remain anonymous.

Medical students are required to finish a one-year-long internship as part of their MBBS degree. However, these students receive a stipend only if they intern at the college from where they graduated. To exemplify, MBBS students from GMCH-32 receive a stipend of Rs 18,000 if they intern at the hospital itself. Since GMSH-16 does not have an associated medical college, all interns are from external colleges and do not receive a stipend for their work.

Another intern who was posted in the COVID-19 isolation ward at GMSH-16 for a brief period states that most of his colleagues are quite inexperienced and are struggling to do COVID duty. “Some of us were not even taught doffing and donning of PPE kits. We were not trained to handle this and we have been thrown to do the most sensitive tasks. We would like to be appropriately compensated or motivated for our work,” says the intern. GMSH-16 students are not only posted in COVID-19 wards inside the hospital, they have been placed on screening duty at Bapu Dham Colony, screening labourers at the ISBT in Sector 43 and also in local dispensaries in affected pockets like Manimajra and Hallomajra.

Dr V K Nagpal, Medical Superintendent for GMSH-16, states that initiating the payment of stipend to interns is not under the purview of the hospital administration. “We recognise how hard these young doctors are working but this policy is beyond our control. We can’t just decide to pay the stipend on our own. These are central guidelines. However, the interns can push for an honorarium to be paid for COVID-19 duty. For which also they will have to directly approach governmental authorities,” says Dr Nagpal.

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