Doctors on leave, Himachal health services hit a wall

Dharamshala: Doctors across Himachal Pradesh, besides those on emergency duty, put down their stethoscopes and are out on mass casual leave at the start of the working week today in protest of manhandling of a lady doctor.

“It’s unfortunate that we have been forced to agitate in such a manner as about 1,600 doctors are on mass casual leave today. They will only provide emergency services,” said Dr Jeevnanad Chauhan, president of HP Medical Officers Association.

“A lady doctor in Kullu was beaten up by some unknown persons at her home and she suffered a serious head injury. Our association had demanded action against the culprits and security for doctors. We did meet health minister Kaul Singh Thakur in Shimla and a delegation of 40 HPMOA doctors returned disappointed,” said Dr Chauhan.

“We are demanding that an assault on a doctor be made a non-bailable offence,” he added.

File Photo: Chief minister Virbhadra Singh with health minister Kaul Singh visiting a patient in hospital
File Photo: Chief minister Virbhadra Singh with health minister Kaul Singh visiting a patient in hospital

Sensing the gravity of the issue, chief minister Virbhadra Singh has scheduled an urgent afternoon meeting with HPMOA doctors during the lunch hours of busy monsoon session day at the Vidhan Sabha office.

Apprehensive of any breakthrough, the association has threatened that if no progress is made, the doctors would resort to a four-hour pen down strike (from 9.30 am to 1.30 pm) from August 25 to August 31.

Earlier announcing the HPMOA’s decision giving a call for all government doctors to go on casual leave, Dr Susheel Sharma, spokesperson of the association said, medical services, except emergency services, will remained suspended today.

Dr Sant Lal Sharma, chairman of HMOA action committee added, “Medical officers who are on emergency duty as mentioned in the duty roaster will continue to offer their services.”

Resenting a centralization of leave powers by the state authorities, Dr Vikram Lakhanpal, president Chamba Medical Officers Association, pointed out that a health ministry directive had withdrawn administrative powers of presiding medical officers to sanction medical, earned and other types of leave. These powers now rest vested with secretary health that has made the working conditions of doctors spread out in remote areas very difficult. This decision needs to be reversed.

Transport minister GS Bali has termed the doctors decision to go on en mass leave an unfortunate one. “I will take up the issue with the chief minister and the health minister,” Bali said in a statement yesterday.

Former health minister Dr Rajeev Bindal, a BJP legislator in the opposition said, “around 2 to 2.5 lakh patients who visit government hospitals on daily basis are being affected by the striking doctors.”

Arvind Sharma is an award winning bi-lingual journalist with more than 20 years of experience. He has worked with Divya Himachal, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhasker, Vir Partap, Ajit and PTI. In 2010, he was conferred the Himachal Kesri journalism award. He reports on the Tibetan Government in Exile, politics, sports, tourism and other topics. He lives in Dharamshala.

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  1. Government Press Release 7 P.M.

    Doctors call-off strike after Chief Minister’s assurance

    The doctors called off their strike after assurance from the Chief Minister Shri Virbhadra Singh that their demands would be considered sympathetically, provided the Himachal Medical Officers Association (HMOA) will withdraw their petition from the State High Court to which the HMOA agreed for the same and promised to withdraw the petition.

    In a meeting of Himachal Medical Officers Association with the Chief Minister here today, that lasted for over an hour in Vidhan Sabha CMs office, it was decided that the proposal to amend the Himachal Pradesh Medicare Services Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (prevention of violence and damage to property), Act, 2010, and make it a non–bailable offence, the Chief Minister said that the proposal to amend the Act will be brought to the Cabinet for discuss.

    The demand regarding grant of four tier pay scales including those on contract, Rogi Kalyan Samitis and adhoc services to all HPHS-I was agreed upon by the government.

    Consensus was reached upon on the issue of earned leave. It was decided that the power of sanctioning leave upto 30 days will vest with the Chief Medical Officers, for leave period upto 3 months will rest Directorate Health Services and for more than three months the secretary health will be the leave sanctioning authority.

    As per the demand of withdrawing notification regarding Medical officers as Food Safety Officers, it was agreed upon and conveyed that it was an interim measure and would be removed as early as possible.

    After detailed discussion it was agreed upon by HMOA that the doctors will prescribe medicines in clear and legible words. Further it was also agreed upon that the doctors will prescribe generic medicines of reputed firms except in case of serious ailments where the patient requires specific treatment and medicines.

    On assurance of the Chief Minister, the HMOA agreed that the appointments of programme officers would be made keeping in view the seniority.

    Regarding the demand of defining duty hours for doctors, it was agreed that the doctors services were essential and they need to be available to the public at all time and their demand of fixing timings for duty was dropped.

    Regarding the demand of the association for 90 percent seats for regular HPHS-I , the matter would be discussed in the Cabinet said the Chief Minister along with the matter for creation of posts of senior medical superintendents.

    The demand regarding regularisation of contractual medical officers after five years of continuous service, , it was decided to accept the same provided the recruiting of doctors on adhoc basis would be examined.

    Regarding demand of not posting Ayurveda doctors in allopathic institution, it was informed that such doctors are not being appointed now.

    The Chief Minister also accepted the demand of Telephone allowance to the contract medical officers.

    Kaul Singh Thakur, Health Minister, Shri G.S. Bali, Transport and Food and Civil Supply Minister, Dr. (Col) Dhani Ram Shandil, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Secretary Health Shri PC. Dhiman were also present on the occasion.

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