Interning doctors protest paltry stipend

‘How can we survive on ₹7,016, when we have to pay for on PPE, transport?’

Interns at West Bengal’s first privately-run medical college — 132 of them — are protesting over the amount they receive as monthly stipend, saying the sum was a pittance compared to what their counterparts in other institutions earned.

“This month we received ₹7,016. How do you expect us to survive on this amount, that too when we have to spend for personal protective equipment and transport from our own pocket?” asked an intern at Kolkata’s KPC Medical College — also serving as a prominent COVID-19 hospital — who did not want to be named but who was a part of the sit-in they staged on Monday.

“All we want is our stipend to be on par with the colleges under WBUHS (West Bengal University of Health Sciences). A fair adjustment to our current structure will be beneficial not just for us but also for batches to come,” the intern said, adding that the stipend had not changed for the last three years. The matter had precipitated now because their expenses had shot up due to the pandemic.

“Travelling in crowded buses and trains is very risky, especially when we have elderly parents and relatives back home. At the same time, due to the lockdown, the cab companies have hiked their rentals by almost three times,” the intern said.

He said the protest, which has the support of the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum, would continue without affecting their duties, which included attending to patients at the KPC Medical College and Hospital and also at Infectious Disease Hospital in Beliaghata (another COVID-19 centre) and at facilities in rural locations such as Sonarpur.

While the medical college authorities could not be reached for comments, it is learnt they would be talking to the protesting doctors on Wednesday afternoon. “We want the authorities to talk to all 132 interns, and not just a delegation of four or five of us. In case they are talking to a delegation, then the talks should be streamed live — that’s our only condition,” the 2016-2022 MBBS batch intern said.

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