Two doctors' associations have taken divergent lines over going on strike in protest against the recent mass transfers effected by the Punjab health department.
The biggest and oldest association of doctors in the state, the Punjab Civil Medical Service (PCMS) Association, had announced on Thursday that it was contemplating going on strike on Monday. However, the PCMS Specialist Doctors' Association on Friday said it would wait for 10 days before deciding on the strike.
The PCMS Association, which has its presence in almost all districts, claims to have more than 3,000 members. The other association, comprising specialist doctors, claims to have around 1,000 members.
In a press release issued after meeting health minister Madan Mohan Mittal, the PCMS Specialist Doctors' Association said they had been assured by the minister that transfers of doctors with genuine problems would be reviewed.
Reacting to the specialist doctors' decision, the PCMS Association said they would not stick to the path of agitation.
"This is the only option we are left with. We condemn the opportunism and escapism of certain sections of doctors," said Dr Gagandeep Shergill, general secretary of the PCMS Association.
According to doctors who have been associated with the PCMS Association for several decades, the lack of unanimity between the two bodies is likely to adversely affect the strike. "One association will go on strike, while doctors associated with the other one will work. This contrast can render the strike futile," said Dr Darshanpal, a retired anaesthetist and a founding member of the association.
The health department had transferred 523 specialist doctors on Tuesday in an effort to upgrade 100 hospitals in the state.