Agree to offer their services at the outpatient wings of primary health centres
Government doctors have withdrawn their four-day-old strike.
The decision followed talks between Health Minister K.K. Shylaja and leaders of the Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) here late Monday evening. At the meeting, the KGMOA leaders agreed to offer their services at the outpatient wings of the primary health centres (PHCs) that have been designated as family health centres under the Aardram Mission. On its part, the government assured the doctors that it would ensure the presence of a minimum of three doctors in such centres. Three doctors each have been deployed in the FHCs that are ready to offer their services to the public. Steps would be taken to ensure the same in the remaining centres as well.
In the FHCs that need to serve a higher number of patients more doctors would be made available through redeployment.
The meeting also decided to constitute a committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary (Health), which would hold discussions with the KGMOA representatives on all related issues. Ministerial-level talks would also be held in the first week of May.
Action against doctors who had stayed away from work during the strike period would be waived once they submit their explanation. Rauf A.K., Jithesh V., Joseph Gomez and Shyam Sundar represented the KGMOA at the talks.
Earlier in the day, in the course of discussions at the Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had asked the Health Minister not to given in to the pressure of the doctors and take a stern stand on their demands.
Meanwhile, the strike paralysed patient care in all government hospitals on Monday even as the doctors seemed to be headed for a climbdown in the face of mounting public protests in various parts of the State and the relentless stand of the government.
With the KGMOA informing the Health Minister through a letter that they were willing to cooperate with the Aardram Mission and that they would like to discuss and iron out the differences, Mr. Shylaja, called them for discussions late evening on Monday.
The doctors seemed to be in a hurry to somehow end the strike. The fact that the CPI(M) top brass was set to leave for the CPI(M) Party Congress being held in Hyderabad seems to have been an another imperative forcing the doctors to settle the strike without delay.
On Monday morning, even though the KGMOA threatened to intensify its strike and even give resignation letters en massee, Ms. Shylaja called the bluff on the organisation when she stated that there would be definite action against the 1,200-odd probationary doctors who are taking part in the strike and that the government had sought the list of eligible candidates for appointment from the PSC.
The government had been firm in its position right from the beginning that the sudden strike by the KGMOA, without serving any notice on the government, was unjustified and that none of the arguments put forth by the association for its refusal to conduct evening OP clinics in family health centres set up under the Aardram Mission were tenable.