Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss on Wednesday urged medicos at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to call off their protest strike, assuring that he will sign their degree certificates soon, but the junior doctors refused to relent.
Hundreds of AIIMS resident doctors are protesting their not having received postgraduate degrees, even two years after clearing their exams. On Wednesday they boycotted the outpatient departments (OPDs) though they attended the ICUs and emergency wards.
"It's unfortunate that for every single issue doctors at AIIMS are going on strike affecting patient care. I urge them to end their protest and all their grievances will be addressed soon," Ramadoss told reporters.
He said the reason for the delay was that the certificates pending before him for his signature had been signed by a registrar whom the health ministry did not recognise.
"The administration needs to take some corrective measures before I put my signature. I appeal to authorities in the institute to arrange for the convocation," he added.
Sources in the ministry said Ramadoss has asked the AIIMS director to hold the convocation on Sep 25, when degrees will be awarded.
However, protesting doctors said they would not relent and continued with their strike.
"We are still on strike and appeal the health minister to sign at least 50 certificates today itself. This will help some students who are applying for higher studies abroad," said a doctor after a general body meeting of the medicos.
AIIMS Resident Doctors Association president Kumar Harsh said: "We will intensify the agitation and stop work in all departments if we do not get our degrees."
Meanwhile, thousands of patients had a harrowing time at the hospital, having been forced to wait for hours in front of the OPD. However, the emergency and ICU services in the hospital were running normally.
"It took 12 years for me to build my career but the health minister is playing with it," Nitin Kukkar, a striking doctor, told IANS.
The protesting medicos alleged that Ramadoss had not signed the certificates though the other three signatories - director, registrar and dean - had signed them.
Over 300 postgraduates of AIIMS are yet to receive their degree certificates, making it difficult for them to apply for jobs or further studies.
AIIMS is India's top government hospital and medical college that treats over 8,000 patients every day, including nearly 6,000 in its OPDs.