Medical services across Punjab were affected as the doctors went on a three-day strike on Monday, July 12, against the state's recommendations of the sixth pay commission relating to non-practising allowance and pension benefits. Left with hardly any choice, the ailing patients had to go to private clinics and hospitals as the outpatient department (OPD) and other basic medical services remained suspended in all government hospitals in the urban and rural areas. The Joint Government Doctors' Association along with several other organisations had called for the strike. The doctors have been demanding that the state government revoke the suggestion of de-linking Non-Practising Allowance (NPA) from the basic pay and its reduction from 25 per cent to 20 per cent.
Protest Against NPA Cut
The NPA is a special allowance provided to doctors posted at medical and veterinary Services. Until the implementation of the 7th Pay Commission, NPA was paid at 25 per cent of the basic pay. In Bathinda, a civil surgeon told the Hindustan Times that all emergency services, including COVID-related work that includes the duty of doctors in isolation wards and vaccinations, went on as per routine.
The doctors said they were not demanding any incentives but only what they deserve, and the authorities should accept the demand if they care for the patients. Civil hospitals of several districts remained closed.
Doctors from the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMS), Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association, Rural Medical Officers Association, Punjab Dental Medical Officers Association and Punjab Ayurveda Officers Association were essential participants in the strike. Apart from some of the routine activities, online classes for undergraduate and post-graduate medicine were also called off to support the agitation. The newspaper quoted the general secretary of PCMS saying that the state government was playing delaying tactics by not taking the matter seriously.