Faced with the possibility of a shortfall in healthcare workers to tackle the escalating Covid-19 crisis in Bengaluru, the Karnataka government is considering roping in medical and nursing students from 17 medical colleges and dozens of nursing schools located around the city.
At a meeting on Monday attended by Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar, Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar and other officials, discussions were held to deploy resident doctors, postgraduates and final-year MBBS and nursing students in the Covid-19 fight.
The state government has decided to appoint 2,000 students, who will take post-graduation exams on July 16, as senior residents as soon as they finish their exams.
“We are thinking of using services of house surgeons from our medical colleges. We will have 2,000 people appearing for PG exams on July 16. We want to compulsorily appoint them as senior residents as soon as they finish the exams. This is from the 17 medical colleges in Bengaluru,” the medical education minister said.
“In the same manner, we are planning to tap into the base of final-year MBBS students and house surgeons in the battle against Covid-19. We are studying legal aspects of doing this. They will be deployed to Covid Care Centres (temporary facilities to provide basic treatment for asymptomatic cases) since they cannot be appointed to hospitals,” he said.
“For students who will be writing the NEET exams to do a PG course, we are considering a grant of five marks if they work in Covid care. It would be awarded as a mark of recognition of great service,” Dr Sudhakar said.
With the strength of the nursing staff in Bengaluru likely to be tested if Covid-19 cases continue to surge, the state government plans to rope in 2,000 final-year nursing students.
“I would like to request my doctor friends and those in the healthcare sector to contribute to the fight against the coronavirus,” Dr K Sudhakar said.
Another proposal likely to be cleared by the state government is a risk allowance for attendants and cleaning staff at hospitals with the allowance being double their basic pay. “We are thinking of providing a risk allowance to D group workers in hospitals who keep the hospitals clean and assist the staff. Despite a financial crisis, the chief minister is considering a measure to provide a risk allowance,” the minister said.
“We had a meeting with senior officials, including the chief secretary and the principal secretary, on how to keep our frontline healthcare staff, who have been at the forefront of the Covid-19 battle for four months, motivated to continue to work in the same manner,” he said.
According to officials in medical education department, the state government can access services of as many as 90,000 students from various healthcare-linked institutions if the situation warrants. “We can send a notice to them to report for service and they would be available,” said director of medical education Dr P G Girish.
In an effort to prevent the exit of doctors working on contract in government hospitals, the state government last week hiked their salaries from Rs 45,000 to Rs 60,000 after they launched a protest. The state has also postponed retirement of doctors who were to retire through 2020.
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