Kerala junior doctors threaten to quit over non-payment of salaries, pay cuts

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CM says government will not reconsider salary cut decision even as state registers 1553 new COVID cases

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With more than half of the 900 plus junior doctors deployed in Covid First Line Treatment Centres (CFLTC) in Kerala yet to receive their monthly salary, they have threatened to resign from their duty from September 10.

The doctors have sent notice along with resignation letters to the government. The doctors were appointed in Covid centres for a period of three months, in the wake of a spike in cases of Covid – 19 in the state.

When asked about the junior doctors’ decision to submit resignation letters due to nonpayment of salaries and salary cut, the chief minister said;``they may be doing it for their personal interests.” To another question whether the government will reconsider the salary cut, the chief minister replied in the negative.

The directorate of health services included the junior doctors in the government's salary challenge campaign under which six days' salary has to be contributed to the chief minister's distress relief fund every month. A section of junior doctors claimed that only 400 odd doctors had received salary so far and that too after facing salary challenge cut and tax deduction.

"Some of us who received the salary faced a cut of Rs 8200 on account of salary challenge. And after tax deduction what we got in hand was just Rs 27,000," said a doctor posted in a CFLTC in Ernakulam district. The mistreatment of junior doctors comes at a time when Covid - 19 situation in the state is getting worse by the day. According to the government's own estimates the state might witness a daily spike of 10,000 to 15,000 cases during September and early October.

The junior doctors are working under extreme pressure. “In many CFLTCs more than 100 patients are being managed by just two doctors. Many work continuously for 12 to 16 hours a day,” said a doctor in Alappuzha district. Even the one week leave that was promised after 10 days continuous duty is not being given at many places. There have been instances of doctors being recalled after two days of leave.

With the rise in patients the workload of the doctors too has increased. Apart from the regular monitoring and treatment of patients, they have to do swab collection of asymptomatic patients and even discharge external duties like random testing among communities.

The junior doctors are demanding that they be treated on par with doctors deployed by NHM. “Doctors deputed from NHM for CFLTC duties are being paid Rs 52,000 including 20 per cent risk allowance and insurance coverage,” said a doctor.

1553 cases of Covid – 19 reported in Kerala on Thursday.

Kerala on Thursday recorded 1553 cases of Covid-19 even as 1950 persons were cured of the disease. Of the new cases, 1391 contracted the disease through contact, the source of 156 persons is yet to be ascertained, 40 health workers are also infected. The state recorded 10 deaths on Thursday.

At a press conference here Chief Minister Mr Pinarayi Vijayan said that the increase of cases anticipated by the government has not happened so far. However, the next two weeks would be crucial, he said.

During Onam festival there was a huge rush of people in markets and public places.  Many restrictions were lifted keeping in view the need to allow social life to move smoothly. However, its impact will be known only after 14 days. "We need to be prepared for a possible surge in cases," he said and added that the slight fall in cases was because of less number of testing in the state,” the chief minister added.

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