One hundred and nine resident medical officers (RMO) of Birdem General Hospital are holding a sit-in programme demanding full pay, safety equipment and job security. They have been holding a sit-in in front of the hospital's chamber complex since 9am on Sunday.
The agitating doctors told The Business Standard that they have not been given enough personal protection equipment (PPE) for treating Covid-19 patients. The PPEs that have been given are not up to standard, yet they have to be reused again and again. In the meantime, 16 RMOs have tested positive to Covid-19 and Birdem hospital did not treat them. The doctors sought treatment from other hospitals.
According to the service rules of Birdem General Hospital, doctors are appointed both permanently and temporarily. Temporary doctors are made permanent within six months to a year. The service rules also state that the doctors are paid according to a fixed scale. But without complying with this rule, 109 medical officers have been appointed with a fixed salary of Tk 30,000. Most of them have been employed for more than one to three years but have not been made permanent. They are being paid Tk 10,000 less for the last two months and the eid bonus has been halved.
A doctor who has been an RMO for three years, told The Business Standard, "We are working harder at this time during the coronavirus pandemic. But we are being paid Tk 10,000 less than the fixed Tk 30,000. We have been expressing our demands to the director general for three months, but there was no solution."
Police have been deployed. In the morning, when three representatives from the doctors went to the director general of the hospital to give a memorandum, the police stopped them. Later, with the help of the police, the director general accepted the memorandum, but he gave no assurance.
The RMOs said, "We will not withdraw from the sit-in programme unless we are given some kind of assurance. Patients are not being affected with the programme as everyone is doing their duty according to the roster. Then joining the programme after finishing duty."
On June 20, the doctors had given a memorandum to the director general regarding their demands where they fixed till June 27 to fulfil the demand. But they took up position on Sunday as there was no response from the authorities.
Dr Kaiyum Chowdhury, director general of Birdem General Hospital, said, "Those who are protesting are training here, they are doctors in training. They say they have to be made permanent. But there are steps for that. If the circular is published, they will be appointed through interview. Now there is no opportunity to be made permanent."