Job uncertainty, meagre stipend ails Tamil Nadu's non-service PG doctors under bond policy

The doctors say that recent changes in policies for non-service PG doctors have left many such doctors in uncertainty about their jobs
Read here | Credit: Edex Live
Read here | Credit: Edex Live

The non-service postgraduate (PG) medical students in Tamil Nadu have urged the state government to either reduce the bond term of two years, abolish the bond system or offer the opportunity to continue service after two years of bond conditions.

The doctors say that recent changes in policies for the non-service PG doctors have left many such doctors in uncertainty about their jobs.

“When I started my PG in 2019, we cleared the Medical Services Recruitment Board (MRB) for entering into government service. At that time, we also received an option to take a special qualifying exam after postgraduation if we were from a government medical college in Tamil Nadu. I, and many other doctors, thought that we would first pursue our higher education degree hence, we joined PG courses. However, they scrapped the special qualifying exam in 2022,” a non-service doctor currently working at a Public Health Centre in Tamil Nadu explained, on the condition of staying anonymous.

The non-service PG doctors in Tamil Nadu are required to serve a bond period of two years in Primary Health Centres (PHCs). The doctors have expressed that while they do not have an issue with the rural service, they want the bond conditions to be waived off.

“My peers and I were in Tamil Nadu colleges during the COVID-19 years as frontline warriors in intensive care units (ICUs) as well as COVID-positive wards. We have not received any incentives for serving as frontline warriors. Since we are postgraduates, if we want to appear for MRB again, we will have to cover the whole MBBS syllabus again which is like going back three years. There is no scope for direct entry in service after postgraduate courses,” the doctor added further.

Other issues

Apart from uncertainty about their jobs, the non-service postgraduate doctors in Tamil Nadu also face a lack of recognition and poor working conditions.

“For the past three years, during our postgraduate course, we have been serving the economically weaker sections (EWS). We have the same amount of workload as service candidates but only get a salary of Rs 35,000, whereas, the service PG candidates are getting Rs 85,000 to 90,000. They are planning to halt even this meagre amount of salary after the bond period,” Srithar Mathi, another non-service doctor explained.

The doctors added that non-service PG doctors working under the bond system do not receive basic benefits like paid maternity leaves and other incentives.

The postgraduate doctors also questioned why there is no opportunity for them to get into service permanently after completing bond service when there are vacancies across the state.

Dr Keerthy Varman, President of the Tamil Nadu Medical Students Association (TNMSA), told EdexLive, “It is very sad that the medical infrastructure of Tamil Nadu is slowly decaying. The news is that there are not enough doctors in primary health centres — this is being questioned not only by doctors but by people as well. The concern of young doctors is that in the last three years, almost no doctor has bagged permanent government employment," he alleges.

The TNMSA urged the state government to permanently scrap the bond conditions for the non-service PG doctors in the state due to its alleged exploitative nature.

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