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The Struggles of Junior Doctors for Monthly Stipend JUDA Strike from 24 June 2024

The Struggles of Junior Doctors for Monthly Stipend JUDA Strike from 24 June 2024

Young doctors in the medical profession, who are vital in preserving public health, should have their needs met promptly. However, the reality is starkly different. Junior doctors, known as JUDAs (Junior Doctors’ Association), often find themselves struggling due to irregular stipend payments. Every two to three months, these doctors are compelled to make rounds of government offices, pleading for their dues. This cycle has been ongoing for years, with the stipend being released only after extreme measures, such as strike notices, are taken.

The lack of a fixed date for stipend payments is a significant issue. Junior doctors, including house surgeons and PG students in the state, frequently experience delays of up to two or three months. Currently, there are 1,700 house surgeons and 3,500 PG students working in state government medical colleges and teaching hospitals. The total monthly stipend amounts to Rs. 38 crores, with house surgeons receiving Rs. 25,906, first-year PG students Rs. 58,289, second-year students Rs. 61,528, and third-year students Rs. 64,767. The irregularity in these payments puts junior doctors, who rely heavily on this income, in severe financial distress.

Financial Hurdles and Administrative Delays

Typically, the attendance details of JUDAs are sent by medical college principals to the Directorate of Medical Education (DME). From there, stipend payment proposals are forwarded to the finance department. Even though payment tokens are issued, the release of funds from the finance department is often delayed. This leads to JUDAs representatives meeting with DME officials, the health secretary, and finance department officers every month to request the release of funds. Despite these efforts, results are rarely immediate. Frustrated by these repeated delays, junior doctors sometimes resort to strike notices every two or three months to prompt government action, which often only responds at the last moment.

The Call for a Permanent Solution

According to G. Sai Sriharsha, President of the Junior Doctors’ Association, the constant need to visit offices for their stipends is extremely burdensome. Junior doctors have to spend five to six days a month meeting officials. The state government needs to recognize that the required budget is relatively small and must address this issue with a permanent solution. Approving the necessary budget in advance or facilitating payments through a green channel could completely resolve the problem. The irregularity in receiving the stipend is creating significant difficulties for junior doctors. They hope that the state government will take appropriate actions to address this ongoing issue.

Demands for Timely Stipend Release and Green Channel Implementation

T-JUDA has long advocated for the timely release of stipends for junior doctors, including house surgeons, postgraduates, and senior residents. Despite proposals made in response to previous strike notices, the association states that none of their demands have been fully addressed. “We have consistently demanded the creation of a green channel (budget relaxation) for the timely disbursement of stipends,” said Dr. G. Sai Harsha, T-JUDA President. The association is calling for a Government Order (GO) to prevent financial strain on junior doctors and a circular from the finance department to ensure stipends are credited by the 10th of every month.

Honorarium for Super Specialty Senior Residents

Another critical issue is the honorarium for Super Specialty Senior Residents. T-JUDA demands that students who have completed their super-specialty be appointed to contract assistant professor positions with a salary of ₹1.25 lakh starting January 1, 2024. Failure to implement this would compromise their one-year service and deprive them of essential monetary benefits.

Reservation in NEET UG and Fair Admission Practices

The junior doctors are also calling for a 15% reservation in the NEET UG prospectus and fair admission practices for both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh students. They assert that AP students should not join the 15% seats increased in Telangana medical colleges after June 2, 2014.

Security Enhancements in Government Hospitals

Security at government hospitals remains a pressing concern due to ongoing incidents of violence against doctors. T-JUDA demands the reinforcement of security outposts and strict law enforcement against assailants. They also call for the allocation of police personnel and strengthening of existing outposts in all medical college hospitals.

Accommodation Shortages for Postgraduates

Accommodation shortages for postgraduates are another significant issue, exacerbated by the non-commencement of new hostel construction, which violates National Medical Commission (NMC) mandates. T-JUDA demands a budget allocation for new hostels and the immediate laying of foundation stones for these buildings.

Urgent Action for Osmania General Hospital

The delay in constructing a new building for Osmania General Hospital (OGH) requires urgent action to prevent overcrowding and improve patient care standards. T-JUDA demands immediate budget allocation and the laying of the foundation stone at the new site.

Infrastructure Needs in Government Medical Colleges

The increase in government medical colleges in recent years has not been matched by essential infrastructure development. Students in distant colleges face difficulties with transportation during field visits and from hostels, which are not on the same campus. T-JUDA demands immediate budget allocation and procurement of buses to address these issues.

Road Infrastructure in Kakatiya Medical College

Lastly, T-JUDA raises concerns about the road infrastructure at Kakatiya Medical College, Warangal. Despite multiple representations and assurances from Health Minister C. Damodar Raja Narasimha that the roads would be laid post-election, no progress has been made. The poor road conditions have led to repeated accidents, prompting T-JUDA to demand immediate construction of these roads.

The ongoing struggles and demands of the junior doctors underscore the urgent need for comprehensive and timely solutions. The state government’s prompt action is essential to address these issues, ensuring that junior doctors can focus on their vital role in maintaining public health without financial and logistical burdens.

In conclusion, the persistent delay in stipend payments for junior doctors is not just an administrative oversight but a pressing financial burden on those who are pivotal in maintaining public health. It is imperative for the state government to find a permanent and efficient solution to ensure that these doctors are paid on time every month. Their dedication to public health deserves more than just acknowledgment; it requires tangible support through timely financial remuneration.

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