Chandigarh: Health services in government hospitals in Haryana were hit on Tuesday as doctors suspended OPD work in support of their demands, prompting the authorities to declare their stir as illegal by invoking the Essential Services Maintenance Act.
The doctors are demanding the creation of specialist cadres for them and stopping the direct recruitment of senior medical officers.
Buckling under pressure amid the Covid crisis, the government acceded to one of the key demands of the doctors with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar giving in-principle approval to the creation of specialist cadre post for MD or MS doctors.
Emergency services and COVID-19 vaccination drive continued in the state but OPD services were affected due to the strike, said Rajesh Sheokand of Haryana Civil Medical Services Association, a body representing government doctors.
Health Minister Anil Vij tweeted, "ESMA has been invoked in Haryana, now for six months health workers won’t be able to go on strike. This step has been taken as a group of doctors has gone on strike which is creating obstacle in steps being taken to contain the Covid surge.
The Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) allows the government to declare a strike illegal in the public interest.
An official statement issued Tuesday evening said the doctors will not be given any administrative work and will practice in their concerned speciality only.
When asked about ESMA being invoked, Health Minister Vij told reporters that the decision was taken keeping in view the surge in Covid cases in the state.
"I had accepted their demands and sent these to the chief minister and other relevant departments. We had a positive approach towards their demands. After meeting with the chief minister yesterday, in-principle approval was also given.
Regarding in-principle approval to the creation of specialist cadre post for MD or MS doctors, the statement said, "In-principle approval has been granted today wherein the government will create a special sub cadre for specialists who will be designated as Consultant or Senior Consultants.”
“Earlier, a doctor with MBBS qualification and MD/MS qualification used to be in the same cadre.”
OPD services in government hospitals were affected in Gurgaon due to the strike called by the doctors.
However, emergency services in all health centres continued as usual.
Doctors from various hospitals gathered at Sector-10 Civil Hospital at 9 am to register their protest.
Several patients had to return back as OPD services remained non-functional in the district.