GUWAHATI, Jan 3 � Around 3,500 doctors and the patients they serve in Assam are enduring a difficult time with the State government failing to honour a Cabinet decision taken more than two decades ago.
The 3,500 members of Assam Medical Service Association (AMSA) have decided to cease work on government notified holidays, including Sundays, second and fourth Saturdays following the State government�s failure to implement time scale promotion, compensatory payment against working on holidays, and other privileges.
Speaking to The Assam Tribune, AMSA members revealed that the cease work on holidays takes place in all the First Referral Units, Sub Divisional Hospitals, Primary Health Centres, Community Health Centres, and Civil Hospitals. Emergency services, however, continues to be operational.
The AMSA, which represents the Assam Health Service A doctors informed that the protest is not in demand of anything new, but to highlight the State Government�s failure to implement some measures which were agreed long upon back.
A communication dated March 24, 1992 from the Deputy Secretary to the Government of Assam to the AMSA general secretary states, �all the decisions reached between you and the Government of Assam in the meeting held on November 6, 1991, were placed before the Cabinet. The Cabinet approved all the proposals submitted��
The follow-up action which were suggested included � time scale promotion, compensation for working on holidays, deputation of doctors to PG studies, creation of post of joint secretary, benefit of confirmation, gradation list, among others.
However, in course of time, the State government decided not to take the steps agreed upon, leaving the doctors with no other option but to carry on with more protest action.
In another bid to address the grievances of the doctors, another discussion took place between the AMSA representatives and senior government functionaries including the Chief Minister and Health Minister and Chief Secretary on February 7, 2006.
Minutes of the discussion state that the Health and Family Welfare Department would create �maximum promotional opportunities� for doctors of the Health A service. It was mentioned that the government has agreed to give substantial financial incentives to the doctors as they have to work during holidays and also due to their nature of duties.
Significantly, the minutes recognised the fact that Doctors of Health A department were the first to demand time-scale promotion, and the notification of another section of civil service officers was issued by Personnel Department �without the concurrence of Finance Department�.
Years later, even this discussion failed to bring any relief, and the doctors once more registered their protest. On November 22, 2010 another meeting took place between the AMSA and the Chief Minister during which the latter agreed to accept some of the major demands. But that too did not materialise, the AMSA added.
Members of AMSA are upset that their reasonable demands, already recognized by a Cabinet decision, have not been met for such a long period of time. More than two decades after they had raised the demands, many of the doctors have lost out on promotional opportunities, while many others are on the verge of retirement with inadequate financial benefits.