NMC's District Residency Programme worries Telangana medicos; implementation postponed to April 1

The members of the Telangana Junior Doctors' Association met Minister Rao on March 19 in this regard; urged for his help
Telangana JUDA members meet Health Minister T Harish Rao on March 19 | (Pic: Dr Kaushik Kumar Pinjarala)
Telangana JUDA members meet Health Minister T Harish Rao on March 19 | (Pic: Dr Kaushik Kumar Pinjarala)

The National Medical Commission's (NMC) District Residency Programme (DRP) was supposed to be implemented from yesterday, March 20, in Telangana. But the postgraduate (PG) resident doctors of the state have asked for a postponement. They have pointed out some practical difficulties they will be facing during the programme to Health Minister T Harish Rao and Health Secretary Syed Ali Murtuza Rizvi.

The members of the Telangana Junior Doctors' Association (T-JUDA) met Minister Rao on March 19, Sunday to intimate him of the issues with the residency programme. The latter considered the requests and fixed a meeting, on March 20, with Rizvi, who also promised a deliberation on the matter.

Under the NMC's programme, all PG residents from all medical colleges, including government, private and deemed universities, would be required to undergo a training programme for three months, during which, they would have to serve at a district hospital. The programme is for all states and union territories, and is mandatory.

JUDA President speaks
According to Dr Kaushik Kumar Pinjarala, President of T-JUDA, so far, this District Residency Programme has been implemented in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, besides Telangana. "The other states have given students the option of serving in their home districts, but Telangana hasn't done so," he says.

As a result, the students explain that they have been posted in far-off places and have to travel a distance of 125-150 km. "We are ready to travel occasionally, but the district hospitals were not providing us with accommodation, any facilities and even food," Dr Kaushik said, adding that when asked about it, the hospitals informed the students that they had not received any communication from the government in this regard.

This drove them to meet the state's Directorate of Medical Education (DME), which could not provide them with any satisfactory help. Then they met Minister Rao, who asked them for solutions to the problem. The doctors urged him to consider allotting them hospitals in their home districts so that they won't have to travel extensively. "For this, sir responded positively and arranged a meeting with Health Secretary Rizvi sir tomorrow (March 20) morning at 11.30 am to discuss the issues and get a solution," mentions a press release by T-JUDA.

An allowance perhaps?
The secretary, however, told the students that allotting hospitals to local PG residents in their home districts and to non-local residents near their parent hospitals, as they demanded, was a complicated and practically impossible task. The residents then suggested that they be provided accommodation or given some allowance so that they could find their own accommodation and food, along with covering their travel expenses.

"Sir gave assurance to provide accommodation by talking to all superintendents in the hospitals or renting places around the hospital, whichever is possible," the press release mentions. "Food facilities will be there for all duty doctors," it adds, as assured by Rizvi.

Implementation postponed
The students are waiting for a positive response from the government soon. Meanwhile, they urged that the programme be postponed, and acting on their request, the DME, through a notice on March 20, postponed the implementation date to April 1.

The resident doctors share that in the absence of accommodation, the doctors will suffer from additional mental pressure. Their workload would increase as well because of travelling long distances and the shortage of helping hands. The women residents, says Dr Kaushik, will be facing even more difficulties with the travel. "Some of them would have to shift with their families for three months," he added.

The students demand that Telangana should follow the models of the other states which have implemented this programme. "It is very well-regulated in Kerala," says Dr Kaushik. However, the Health Secretary explained, "It would be difficult for the pioneering batch (the current batch of students) but slowly things might improve. The government will also have an idea on how to improve," mentioned the T-JUDA press release.

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