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Unhappy with govt response, Delhi doctors remain on strike, ‘those on Covid duty join protest’

Manish Nigam, who is leading the protest in Delhi, says doctors are 'dissatisfied with response' of Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya after their meeting, want 'immediate action'.

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New Delhi: After a meeting with Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya Tuesday evening, protesting resident doctors in Delhi have decided to continue their 11-day long strike over the issue of delayed NEET-PG (The National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test- Postgraduate) counselling. The protestors’ ranks were swelled by resident doctors who left Covid duty to join the strike. 

At least 10 hospitals in the national capital, including GB Pant Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP) and Safdarjung Hospital, have had to bring in consultant doctors in the absence of the striking resident doctors. 

Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA) president Manish Nigam, who is leading the protest in Delhi, told ThePrint, “We are dissatisfied with the response of the health minister. In his press statement, he has promised that he will look into the matter and try to get a date for PG counselling on 6 January itself. He expressed concern over the Delhi Police’s ill treatment of doctors but no concrete action has been taken so far.”

“We want immediate action. We also held a meeting with resident doctors’ associations in other states and have decided to continue our protest. All the doctors on Covid duty have joined in on the protest as well,” Nigam added.

He mentioned that doctor representatives from eight states in the country, including Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, have joined in the protest in Delhi. 

In his press briefing Tuesday, Mandaviya had urged doctors to call off the protest. “I held a meeting with all resident doctors. The matter is sub judice in the Supreme Court. The hearing will take place on 6 January 2022. I hope NEET-PG counseling will start soon,” he said.


Also read: Resident doctors across India threaten shutdown of services after police ‘crackdown’ in Delhi


Need larger workforce: Doctors

Doctors in Delhi have been protesting over the last 11 days, demanding that NEET-PG counselling be expedited. They say they are understaffed and with the threat of a third wave, they are in need of a larger workforce. 

Around 42,000 doctors who cleared the NEET PG exam, held in September 2021, are waiting to get their allotments and start duty.

Amid these developments, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Resident Doctors’ Association (RDA) has called off its threat to protest. The RDA had issued a statement Monday declaring that the doctors will go on strike and will shut down all non-emergency related services from Wednesday if their demands are not met within 24 hours.

As Covid cases spike in the national capital and a yellow alert is issued, a strike by resident doctors may become a great cause of concern. 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, too, urged the central government to listen to the demands of the protesting doctors. 

In a letter to the government, he wrote, “On one hand, the Omicron variant is spreading at an alarming speed, on the other, doctors in hospitals under the central government in Delhi are on strike…. Covid-19 cases are rising again. The doctors should be in hospitals, not on the streets.”

 

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)


Also read: NEET-PG 2021 counselling: Protesting doctors return lab coats, hold march


 

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