A section of government doctors are disappointed with the State government’s move to grant them allowances instead of their long-pending demand to address pay disparity and compression of pay band-4 (PB-4) on completion of 12 years of service.
Doctors of at least five associations — Tamil Nadu Medical Officers Association, Service Doctors and Postgraduates Association (SDPGA), Doctors Association for Social Equality (DASE), Tamil Nadu Medical Students Association and Service Doctors Welfare Association — have registered their objection to Government Order 293 on granting allowances to medical officers.
For several years, doctors have been demanding compression of PB-4 to 12 years by reviewing G.O. 354. The latest G.O., however, rules out implementation of Dynamic Assured Career Progression (DACP) and PB-4 at 12 years of service, and instead, grants allowances after categorising doctors.
A number of doctors said the G.O. completely neglected those working in rural areas, Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and government hospitals in peripheral areas. SDPGA questioned why this order was issued in a hasty manner. It granted graded allowances based on specialties, selected specialties and rare specialties and a functional classifications based on the place they worked. It said that doctors in every directorate have unique job functions and responsibilities, and one cannot discriminate between their services.
“In a nutshell, this G.O. is nothing but what the previous government offered us which the Federation of Government Doctors Association rejected as it is a threat to dismantle our strong public health care. Now, the entire government doctors community is in a state of shock. We are already exhausted due to the two waves of the pandemic, and this has demoralised all of us,” A. Ramalingam, State convenor of FOGDA, said.
“Right now, we want the government to revoke the order that does not reflect the work productivity. The ultimate demand is to review G.O. 354 that was given by former Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi in 2009. It gave us DACP at 8, 15, 17 and 20 years of service and to compress promotion at 4, 9, 11 and 12 years. Once this pay disparity is addressed, then we can discuss allowances,” he said. G. R. Ravindranath, general secretary of DASE, said the government should withdraw this order. “The government should rethink this decision, and take steps to implement the demands being raised by the FOGDA on implementation of PB-4 at 12 years. There are certain discriminations in granting allowances,” he said.
The Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association has welcomed the G.O. K. Senthil, its president, said this issue has dragged on for 4.5 years. “We have certain grievances that will be taken up soon. There are nearly 6,000 doctors in PHCs in the State. But according to the G.O., only those working in difficult and remote areas will get the allowance. So, only about 2,000 doctors will benefit. We want doctors in all rural areas to be included and the amount to be enhanced from ₹3,000 to ₹5,000,” he said.
With the G.O. pointing at allowing private practices as one of the key reasons, a senior government doctor, “Not all government doctors have private practice and not all practising doctors have flourishing practice. Private practice is done only outside government working hours by sacrificing our family and rest time and not while on duty. Quoting this reason is not fair as we are demanding a pay hike for the work we are doing in duty hours only,” he said.
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