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Promise clears doc strike cloud

Junior doctors of the state have decided to call off their proposed strike from November 15. The decision came after fruitful negotiations with Deepak Kumar, principal secretary, health, on Wednesday.

Deepak had called members of Junior Doctors’ Association (JDA), which had called the strike, to meet him. He assured the JDA members that most of their demands would be looked into.

The junior doctors were slated to go on indefinite strike from November 15 to press for various demands such as increase in stipend, revision in selection procedure and fixing the upper age limit for senior resident doctors.

Sources said along with the 600 junior doctors at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), their counterparts at Nalanda Medical College and Hospital; Anugrah Narayan Medical College and Hospital, Gaya; Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Muzaffarpur; Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital, Bhagalpur; and Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital had also decided to go on strike.

Confirming that the JDA had called off the strike, its president Rakesh Kumar said: “We are happy that the principal secretary of the health department has promised to look into our demands.”

He added that one of their main demands was fixing an upper age limit for appointment of senior resident doctors.

“We want the limit to be 37 years. At present, doctors in their 50s are also appointed senior residents. This is not good for the career prospects of young doctors. The principal secretary of the health department has agreed to look into this matter.”

Rakesh said: “We had also asked the government to implement a senior residency scheme, according to which senior residents can be recruited for only three years. This system has been implemented in other states but in Bihar, doctors continue as senior residents even after three years of service in the post.”

The JDA has suggested that senior residents should be promoted after three years so that young doctors can apply for the vacant posts.

Another major demand of the JDA is revision of selection criteria for appointment of senior doctors. At present, doctors are recruited on the basis of their MBBS and postgraduation marks.

“But this does not help doctors who graduate from government colleges,” said Rakesh, adding that while in state health cradles, student can expect grades only as high as 60-65 per cent, their counterparts in private medical colleges get 80-85 per cent marks.

He said: “As a result, students of government medical colleges find it very difficult to get jobs as senior resident doctors. Selection to this post should be conducted through a competitive exam.”

The students have been demanding this for long without getting a positive response from the government. “But today (Wednesday), the principal secretary said he would look into this as well,” said Rakesh.


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