Resident doctors unhappy with pay panel report

An association of resident doctors in government hospitals today claimed the salary raises proposed by the Seventh Pay Commission are likely to exacerbate the exodus of doctors from government to private healthcare institutions.

The Federation of Resident Doctors Association, a body of junior and senior residents in central government hospitals, said the commission's pay recommendations had done little to address the imbalance between the government and the private medical sector.

The commission, which submitted its report to the Union government last week, has reduced a component of the pay called the non-practising allowance (NPA) given to government doctors for not engaging in private consultations, the federation said.

The commission has proposed a reduction in the allowance to 20 per cent of the basic salary from the current level of 25 per cent, although representatives of doctors had sought a raise to 40 per cent. It has also proposed a drop in house rent allowance to 24 per cent, 16 per cent, and 8 per cent of basic pay from the earlier 30 per cent, 20 per cent, and 10 per cent in tier-1, tier-2, and tier-3 cities, the federation said in a statement today.

The recommendations will raise the starting salary of senior resident doctors from the current Rs 88,000 per month to Rs 105,000 per month, federation office-bearers said.

"This is much lower than what we had expected and much lower than the salaries that doctors with similar level of qualifications would receive in private hospitals," said Pankaj Solanki, a senior resident surgeon at Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital, Delhi, and the president of the federation.

The federation has claimed that an assistant professor in a government medical college would have a starting pay of about Rs 85,000 per month, while a consultant in some private hospitals with an equivalent medical qualification would receive Rs 2 lakh to Rs 2.5 lakh. India has over 400 medical colleges that produce about 56,000 MBBS-qualified graduate doctors and about 25,000 specialists with postgraduate MD or MS degrees. But many medical colleges, including government colleges, have long been dogged by faculty shortages.

The pay commission report has observed that the number of medical officers, teaching and non-teaching specialists and public health specialists in the central health services in 2014-15 was 2,942 against the sanctioned strength of 4,006.

But medical faculty in government healthcare institutions said there are certain advantages in working in such hospitals that cannot be measured quantitatively. "Yes, we're overloaded with patients," said a senior cardiologist at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh.

"But we don't have commercial pressures, we don't have targets to meet, and we get to train the next generation of doctors - some of us see these as benefits," the cardiologist said.

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