DESPITE ORDERS issued by the apex court of India to ensure that salaries of doctors and frontline healthcare workers involved in the management of pandemic are paid on time and in full, the UT Administration is yet to pay the stipends of almost 100 resident doctors of GMCH-32.
Resident doctors of batch 2017, who enrolled with the Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, for their post-graduation degrees in at least 15 departments, were thrust into the pandemic in the most crucial semester of their learning — they are the exiting batch.
As the residents balanced their thesis submissions, studied for their exams and ran from pillar to post managing the inflow of Covid-19 patients amid a lack of resources which had initially been reported while extending their services to the hospital beyond their call of duties, they are yet to be paid for their services.
The issue of stipends has cropped up due to the overlap of new admissions with the services utilised of the exiting batch. As per a notification issued by the Medical Council of India on March 7 this year, the services of postgraduate students of batch 2017, were to be utilised by the institute only until a fresh batch of postgraduate students join. “The payment of stipend to final year students will be released during their extended period as per their attendance in their departments,” said a letter by the director of GMCH, Dr B S Chavan.
But in May and June, while several departments took in new students, they defaulted on relieving the older ones, which inadvertently led to the non-payment of dues of the exiting batch.
Even though the exiting batch of more than 100 resident doctors have put in several requests and even sent letters requesting their due stipends, the hospital authorities are yet to reply to them in a formal manner, the doctors allege.
“We had sent an official letter in the month of July asking about the same, but no response was received from the administration. We were only given verbal assurances,” said a former resident doctor of GMCH, requesting anonymity.
In the letter sent on July 11 — “Regarding stipend of batch 2017 junior residents for their extended tenure of the month of May, June and July 2020” — the residents had mentioned the “uncertainty regarding the payment of stipend to the MD-MS batch of 2017”.
The residents had effectively brought out the fact that the hospital had taken in new residents but had not relieved the older ones which was causing them confusion about their payments. The letter had also attached their duty rosters as proof of their work.
“Batch 2017 junior residents are regularly posted in their respective departmental as well as COVID duties till July 31. We shall appreciate a clarification and assurance from the hospital administration as the previous letter from the administration did not mention regarding the payment of stipend once the fresh batch joins and there is uncertainty among the residents and other officials regarding the same,” the letter had stated.
While residents with the departments of transfusion medicine and ENT were relieved on time and have no dues to be paid, those studying microbiology, paediatrics, gynaecology, medicine, radiology and opthalmology have to be paid for June and July. Students of pulmonary, dermatology, pathology, orthopedics, surgery and anaesthesia are yet to be paid for their services extended over May, June and July.
Dr B S Chavan, GMCH director, told The Indian Express that “there is some delay in the paper work which is being worked on. They should have their stipends within next week”.
However, young doctors are feeling neglected. “The administration has not paid us, although we have been working day and night in 12-hour shifts. There was a time in the beginning when we were not given PPE kits for emergency shifts. Yet we worked. While states like Haryana have doubled their doctors’ salaries, Chandigarh does not want to pay the actual stipend. The delay remains unjustifiable,” said another former resident who was enrolled as a surgeon with the GMCH-32.