Shimla: With most doctors on contract services with the government abstaining from work for the second day, confrontation between them and the authorities is on the boil as the government threatens to take penal action against those who are on strike.
Saying that the doctors had backtracked on the terms that had been agreed upon about service conditions, health minister Rajiv Bindal said, â€œthe authorities have been asked to serve a notice on those doctors who are on mass casual leave as to why their seniority as well as the concession allowed for appearing in post-graduate examination may not be done away with.â€
The minister said that earlier the government had agreed to demands like reducing the period of giving regular appointment to contract doctors and those appointed through Rogi Kalyan Samiti (RKS) societies from 8 to 6 years, extending financial benefits to contract doctors which were being given to RKS doctors and upon their demand recently also obtained cabinet approval for recruiting 150 doctors through the HP public service commission (HPPSC).
Meanwhile health services in many rural areas has been hit as out of the 327 contract doctors as many as 207 doctors had abstained from work on Thursday after their application for casual leave was rejected.
â€œEven of the 207 doctor who took leave yesterday, some have reported for work today,â€ said Vinod Pathak, director health services.
However the striking doctors remain defiant. â€œThe government is responsible for the strike as it struck down our application for a 3 day mass casual leave,â€ said Namit Thakur, spokesman of a joint action committee formed by the striking doctors to negotiate with the authorities.
â€œThough the government had announced filling up of 150 posts through HPPSC but was ambiguous about giving preference for regular appointment to those who are serving in remote and far flung for long periods,â€ he said. â€œThis is injustice to those delivering health services under difficult conditions,â€ he added.
Demanding a change in the policy for recruiting doctors, Thakur said that past service of serving doctors should be considered while giving regular appointment so as to clear the backlog first before considering others for commission appointments.
Giving regular appointment to doctors has been a thorny issue for the government after it framed a policy of contract appointment through RKS societies set up at block and district levels.
There remains a substantial disparity is pay parity between regular and contract doctors, which is being agitated.