SRINAGAR: Terming Valley-based doctors’ demand for offs on official holidays as “uncalled for”, the Health department on Wednesday said it amounts to “blackmailing” as doctors are associated with emergency services.
As per an official communiqué, the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir (DHSK), said the approach and methodology adopted by the doctors were “uncalled-for and unbecoming of the professional organization”.
“By this action, you are putting on the risk the precious life of the people of the Valley and defaming the department as a whole, which is an unwarranted action on your part. I am hopeful that you, being the respectable citizens and officials of the society and Health Department respectively, will prevail upon the other members of the association and persuade them to desist from going to avail gazetted holidays,” Deputy Director, Health Services (Headquarters) Kashmir said in a letter to the President, Doctors’ Association Kashmir (DAK), Dr Suhail Naik.
The association on Tuesday decided that all doctors working in Kashmir’s peripheral health care system would avail all gazetted holidays from April 30, 2018.
“The decision has been taken in view of non-seriousness and callous attitude of the successive governments in addressing the genuine and legitimate demands of doctors, particularly ‘two-and-half day salary’ and ‘risk allowances’,” a DAK spokesperson said in a statement.
“The medical officers are attending additional duties on Sundays without any weekend offs, and consultants are also attending additional duties in the form of ‘call duties’ without any incentives from the government,” the statement said.
However, the Heath department said the action would bring it disrepute and disrespect.
“All the doctors of the Kashmir valley have worked day in and day out for making the health care delivery system more effective and vibrant, and this action should in all cases amount to bringing disrepute and disrespect to the department or, in other words, amount to blackmailing the department,” the department communication reads.
“As such, I am, hopeful that you will perform your duties in normal course during the holidays as well, till the matter gets resolved. Needful to submit here that leave cannot be taken as a matter of right,” it says.
The announcement asserts that the health department comes under Essential Services and the services of all doctors are covered under the same.
“While choosing for the service, a responsibility is cast upon the member that he will work with full devotion and dedication towards the welfare of the patient care delivery system without demanding anything for the same except that will be admissible under the law and rules,” it says.
However, the DHSK says other demands are under consideration with the department and will hopefully be considered on merit.
As for the DAK, however, Dr Naik told Kashmir Reader that doctors will continue with their decision of availing off-days on gazetted holidays.
“Government has always been turning a deaf ear towards our demands, and in that context, our association has decided that all doctors, barring emergencies and casualty sections, across Valley shall avail gazetted holidays from April 30 and are requested to assemble at Directorate office at 1 pm on April 30 positively to lodge a strong protest,” he said.
He said that ‘gazetted holiday’ is the right of every employee, including doctors, and that it is crystal clear to one and all under what challenging conditions doctors are working in the Valley.
“There is absolutely no rule mentioning that a doctor who is an employee cannot avail gazetted holidays. If extra duties are to be extracted from doctors, they need to be paid for that, like other essential service employees are paid. Doctors are also governed by the same Civil Service Rules and human rights too. There is an immense dearth of doctors across the state, and the government has already stretched our duties to the limit without resolving our grave issues,” Dr Naik said.