Medical interns at hospitals in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been working extra hours in the hospital for the past couple of months with a salary of Rs 233 per day – which comes to Rs 7,000 per month. In other states, interns are paid up to Rs 15,000 per month.
In Punjab too, the situation was just as dismal. But after students raised objections, chief minister Amarinder Singh recently hiked the monthly salary from Rs 9,000 to Rs 15,000.
Meanwhile, interns in UP and Rajasthan are continuing to put pressure on state authorities. For the past month, student unions from different medical colleges in Rajasthan and UP have been writing letters to their respective MLAs as well as the chief minister Ashok Gehlot, but haven’t heard from them as yet. The interns had also launched a Twitter campaign ‘One Nation, One Stipend’ in the first week of May, to demand a salary increment.
The United Resident and Doctors Association (URDA) wrote a letter to UP chief minister Adityanath saying the the salary for intern doctors in UP is the lowest among all the states and despite that, they are putting their lives at risk during a pandemic.
“As we are all aware of the fact that that health professionals are always in the front lines to face any disastrous conditions and of them interns are the contact points for all sorts of emergencies,” said Neeraj Kumar Mishra, UP president of URDA.
However, all the efforts, interns say, have only been falling on deaf ears. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 cases are rising at an alarming rate, especially in UP and Rajasthan, leaving them with no choice but to work.
“At times, an intern has to work the whole day without any break and sometimes, they are not even allowed to take off. And now with the pandemic, the workload has increased more than ever. In such a situation, how can they pay us Rs 233 per day,” said a student representative.
A few interns also allege that they have to arrange for their own masks because hospitals don’t provide them. On top of that, a lot of medical colleges have been hiking fees by 10% for the past few years, making medical education even more expensive. In such a scenario, interns ask, how fair is it to not increase their salaries?
In one of the letters sent to the state authorities, students say that they feel like “bonded labour” working overtime in hospitals. They will continue to remotely agitate for the another one week or two and go on a strike if the authorities refuse to take any concrete steps.
Featured image credit: Reuters