Medical Interns under state government demand incentives over measly 11k stipend

These medical interns are working on the frontline in the Coronavirus pandemic.

Credit : Indie Journal

Pune: Around 2,000 medical interns at the State Government-run hospitals in Maharashtra who are also working on the frontline in the Coronavirus pandemic have demanded incentives over their monthly stipend while working. The Association of State Medical Interns Maharashtra (ASMI) has stated that as the interns at Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hospitals are presently paid a total remuneration of Rs 59,000, state medical interns should also get incentives over their stipend of Rs 11,000.

“We have been working in COVID-19 wards, as well as the regular wards and OPDs. Considering the situation, our long working hours and the risk that we are constantly exposed to, we deserve to be paid incentives along with our regular stipend for the COVID period,” said Dr Parag Patil, a medical intern at Sassoon General Hospital in Pune.

The stipend for the medical interns in the state was increased from Rs 6,000 to Rs 11,000 a few months ago. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the interns were also summoned to work at different departments, to help combat the disease. Considering the situation, the BMC began paying an incentive of Rs 39,000 per month to the medical interns at BMC hospitals (KEM Hospital, Sion Hospital, Cooper Hospital and KEM Hospital) from April 1, to which, another Rs 9,000 per month has been added.

"Student nurses are granted a Rs 20,000/month incentive, MBBS doctors/M.O.s /A.M.O.s are getting Rs 80,000/month. Hence, we believe that MBBS interns deserve an incentive of Rs 50,000/month for the duration of this pandemic (inclusive of a stipend)," read the letter submitted by the ASMI to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Health Minister and Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER).



“The BMC medical interns now get Rs 59,000 per month. We are not quoting any particular amount to them, but we want to to consider our request, and at least pay us incentives to neutralise this disparity in pay,” Patil said.

Dr Vedkumar Ghantaji, a medical intern at Nair Hospital, Mumbai and President of ASMI told Indie Journal that the officials said that incentives were started for the interns as BMC hospitals looking at the alarmingly rising number of COVID-19 positive patients in Mumbai.

“However, the number of cases across the state has increased now. So ASMI has been demanding incentives for all medical interns in the state, as even though less than 50 percent of us have been working on COVID duty, the workload of the rest has increased a lot, almost similar to that of resident doctors, as senior doctors have been diverted towards COVID patients,” Ghantaji said.

There are a total of 1,926 state medical interns in Maharashtra. “Out of these, 25 have tested positive for Coronavirus till now. We are all working long hours, anything ranging from six to over 24 hours. We have to work in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, which is very difficult. Our workload has also increased since many doctors are busy with COVID duty. We certainly deserve more than just the stipend of Rs 11,000,” said Dr Pranay Khedkar, an intern at JJ Hospital, Mumbai.

Moreover, Khedkar also pointed out that the state medical interns are not provided with any isolation facilities after finishing their COVID duty.

“The BMC medical interns are quarantined after their COVID duty before they go home. But no such facility is provided to us. We have to go back to our hostel amongst other interns and try to isolate ourselves. Those who stay at home fear for the safety of their family members all the time,” he said.

Ghantaji said that ASMI is campaigning on different levels to get the doctors the stipend and incentive that they deserve. “We have been speaking to different officials in the State Government, but we haven’t received a positive response from anyone yet. We have been campaigning for our cause on social media too. If we still receive no response, we will try to meet the State Home Minister and Health Minister,” he added.