The woes of Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) do not seem to end. For the sixth consecutive day on Monday, the doctors remained on strike, boycotting OPD services and teaching work. The paramedical staff has also joined the stir over non-payment of salaries and the alleged pick-and-choose policy of the management for giving increments.
With nil OPD admissions, the premier institute of Doaba has turned into a classic example of government apathy. The 250-bed hospital is currently treating only 15 patients indoors, agitating doctors said.
The PIMS Medical and Education Charitable Society, which is led by rural development and panchayats minister Surjit Singh Rakhra, and to whom the institute was handed over on a 99-year lease, had shown helplessness in managing the affairs and sought the state government's permission to sublet the hospital to Fortis for making it operational. The file has been forwarded to the state government, reportedly, with remarks of no provision for this in the memorandum of understanding.
"No one from the management has bothered to contact us as today is the sixth day of our strike," rued Dr SS Sidhu, saying, "If the PIMS management fails to resolve our issues, doctors would start a chain fast from Wednesday."
The local chapter of the Indian Medical Association also supported the agitation and demanded an early resolution to the problem. "It is unfortunate that the doctors are not being paid salaries for the past five months. We condemn the apathetic attitude of the government to doctors and demand early release of their salaries," said IMA president Dr Avinash Bhagat.
On the issue of unprecedented hikes allegedly given to some of the employees, the paramedical staff and non-teaching staff also joined the doctors and stayed away from work on Monday. "We demand the equal-work-equal-pay principle. Of two persons working on the same post, one is getting a hike of Rs 500 and the other has been provided an increment of Rs 7,000. This is illogical and unjustifiable," said one of the agitating employees.
HT enquiries revealed that in the meeting of the board of governors held on April 29, the request for adding seven new members to the society was accepted. This was reportedly the move of the society to reduce the financial crunch of the institute.
The Medical Council of India had also barred the PIMS from admitting students in the 2013-14 academic session due to lack of required infrastructure and for admissions to the next session, an inspection is due in February.
As doctors are keeping away from teaching, the PIMS administration has reportedly postponed the internal exams for the second-year students.
Dr Vimal K Sikri, representative director of the state government, said, "The government has no control over the salary issue. We have accepted the demand of the society to add new members. As far as issue of subletting the PIMS premises to Fortis is concerned, we have forwarded the file to the chief minister with our comment that the clause 8.11 of the concessionaire agreement bars the society from doing so."