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Resident doctors with coveted degrees from few of the top medical colleges in India have come together to inform the central government that they are being “overworked” and are tired of 15-hour shifts, no break rooms, no sleep, food or water.
The resident doctors have launched an ‘I Am Overworked’ campaign and have been assembling graduate and postgraduate students in government medical college hospitals across states like Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
Dr. Harjit Singh Bhatti, former president of the resident doctors’ association, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), told the The Print that the doctors will use the campaign to send a letter to recently appointed Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan with their complaints.
The doctors have also planned to send letters to deans of all medical colleges in India, use social media campaigns to boost visibility and increase pressure, and wear an ‘I Am Overworked’ badge on their scrubs on a chosen day of this summer. The doctors also said that there will be no strike or protest but a message needed to be sent.
Dr. Bhatti said that the health minister’s job is not merely to privatize the healthcare industry. He also said that they are hoping the health minister, who is also a doctor, will understand the pain because he’s also been through it.
According to Bhatti, even the suicide of Maharashtra doctor Payal Tadvi was a consequence of more than just caste discrimination. Resident doctors have unmanageable workload which is also a major consideration in her death. When junior doctors commit suicide, the important factor is that they are being made to work over 15 hours a day with no rest, every often without easy access to food, water and break-rooms.
Bhatti also said that he has seen his fellow residents break down, cry and scream during their shift, adding that some of his friends can’t even sleep for the four hours at night because they dream about patients and paperwork.
Alok Kumar, the head of the Indian Medical Association’s resident student wing in Delhi, said that one of their biggest demands is the proper implementation of the Central Residency Scheme, which has been ignored across hospitals. The scheme was created following a Supreme Court order in 1992, which limits the working hours for junior residents to 12 hours a day and grants a weekly off-day on a rotation basis.