The government announcement of one month special pay, ex-gratia and solatium for doctors who contracted COVID-19 or succumbed to the infection, is yet to be fulfilled, the association said
Objecting to the diversion of government doctors to Chennai for COVID-19 duty, the Federation of Government Doctors Association (FOGDA) has demanded that the Health Department immediately fulfil the assurances made to doctors and appoint adequate manpower for COVID-19 management.
FOGDA, at an emergency meeting convened on March 24, said during the first wave, the COVID-19 crisis was managed successfully mostly by the government sector with the available working force of 18,000 government doctors along with nursing and paramedical staff without any extra benefits. The government had announced one month special pay, ₹2 lakh ex-gratia for those who contracted the infection and ₹50 lakh as solatium for the families of those who succumbed to the infection. So far, none of these assurances have been fulfilled, a press release said.
During the first wave, the entire health machinery was utilised for COVID-19 work alone. Except for emergencies and casualties, all speciality elective services came to a halt. As a result, there was a backlog of non COVID-19 cases. The workload has doubled for healthcare workers, who have been working continuously and are exhausted both mentally and physically. They are overburdened and there is no support from the administration, the association said.
While welcoming the steps being taken to control the surge in fresh infections, the association called for measures to grant the due compensation for doctors.
The association said it was disappointed over the callous approach of the government in putting the health professionals and public at risk. While demanding that all benefits that were announced be granted immediately, it said that adequate manpower should be appointed exclusively for COVID-19 management. For a population of 8 crore in the State, 18,000 government doctors were insufficient. The posts of doctors should be created as per the patient population.
The association also objected to any move to halt management of non COVID-19 patients and teaching activities as well as diversion of government doctors and postgraduate students for COVID-19 duty. The association also requested that the basic right of doctors, who were on emergency duty, to vote in the forthcoming elections,ay, be ensured.