After protests by tribals, the BJP Government put a halt to the South Gujarat river link project, after protests by cattle rearers Gujarat stopped an already passed legislation and now after a five-day strike by 10,000 government doctors, the State Government has succumbed and agreed to meet all their demands.
Doctors of government hospitals, government medical colleges, the Gujarat Medical Education Research Society (GMERS) and dental teachers of government medical colleges under the aegis of the Gujarat Government Doctors Forum (GGDF) were on strike since April 4.
It was on May 16 last year that the then Vijay Rupani Government had issued an order resolving many of the demands by senior doctors, including some as old as 10 years. The issues were related to pension benefits, direct recruitment for ad hoc appointments, payment of non-practising allowance and salary increments.
The order was never implemented and the Bhupendra Patel Government on November 22 last year issued a second order, withdrawing the May 2021 government resolution (GR).
The striking doctors were demanding that the May 16 order of last year be implemented forthwith. The senior doctors were particularly miffed for not being given promotions for nearly two decades. Besides, the doctors also want a stop to the contractual system of hiring medical professionals since it lacked any accountability as was experienced during the Covid-19 crisis.
The strike severely affected the health services across Gujarat, most adversely in the rural areas, since not only the doctors of government and government-aided medical colleges but also those from the Primary Health Centres (PHC) and Community Health Centres (CHC) were also on strike. Even planned surgeries, including those of cardiac and cancer patients, were disrupted by the five-day strike.
However, emergency patients and patients in labour were attended to by resident doctors and contractually hired doctors.
The May 16, 2021, government resolution included implementing the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations, while medical teachers under the medical education division were approved to be paid a non-practising allowance with a maximum salary of Rs 2,37,500.
Significantly, the GR also stated that teachers performing their duties on an ad hoc basis at institutions under the medical education division would have their services regulated until selected on regular basis by direct recruitment through the Gujarat Public Service Commission, and those serving on an ad hoc basis in the higher cadres will be appointed through promotion or direct recruitment.
The GR also laid down conditions on promotions and relaxed the criteria to consider elevating doctors to higher pay scales.