Resident docs demand better pay, 4,500 on strike today

Around 4,500 resident doctors in medical colleges across the state will strike work Thursday to demand a raise and better working conditions, among other things.

Doctors in 14 medical colleges will participate in the "mass bunk". Around 1,500 of the striking doctors are from city colleges, including KEM, Sion, Nair and JJ hospitals.

The strike will be observed from 8 am Thursday to 8 am the next day.

The doctors threatened if their demands are not met by Friday, they would go on an indefinite strike from January 31.

As per a state government policy, stipend of resident doctors in medical colleges must be reviewed every three years.

After the review in 2009, the doctors were to receive an increased amount last July. However, they claimed non-receipt of the approximately Rs 13,000 raise.

"We have been receiving a monthly stipend of Rs 31,600 instead of the Rs 44,000 we were supposed to get since July. This is lot of money," said Sunny Khandare, president of Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD).

The doctors also demanded the existing bond policy, requiring resident doctors to serve in rural hospitals for a year after graduation, must be implemented properly.

"We are not against serving the bond if it is going to help the government. However, we demand the policy be implemented within 15 days or else doctors not allotted seats be exempted," Rakesh Waghmare, another MARD official, said.

Some cases may be deferred

Admitting that resident doctors were the backbone of medical services, dean Suleman Merchant said Sion Hospital would try its best to ensure patient care is not hampered.

"We will handle all emergency cases to the best of our ability. Routine cases will also be looked at depending on their nature. The rest, if required, might be deferred," he said.

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