New Delhi: The resident doctors who have been protesting to express their dissatisfaction with the lack of response to their request for the dates of NEET-PG counselling, called off their strike on Friday at noon. The Indian Medical Association has also expressed its dismay over police brutality towards doctors who were peacefully protesting. However, Delhi Police officials have now assured that no legal actions would be taken against the protesting doctors.

Looking into the matter, the Federation of Resident Doctors’ Association (FORDA) has decided to conduct a national meeting with all RDA representatives on January 6. In a statement, FORDA stated, “A virtual meeting of FORDA members with all RDAs’ representatives was convened late in the evening whereby all the proceedings were conveyed, all points of concern were discussed in details. It was unanimously decided to call off the agitation on 31st December 2021, 12:00 pm, considering various factors, including patient care.”

“Since the health ministry has submitted the report to the Supreme Court, now we are waiting for the dates of counselling. If we don’t get any further dates, we’ll have a meeting on the 6th of January at 6 PM and then make a decision. Also, the COVID cases are rising, so we need to be more cautious,” a resident doctor told The Sunday Guardian. Sources close to the FORDA told this correspondent that the date for counselling is scheduled on January 25, 2022. However, there is a possibility that the date of counselling may be preponed to January 16 or 17, once the court hearing begins.

During the pandemic, resident doctors at various hospitals across India complained of a shortage of doctors and excessive workload. The workforce has almost reduced to 66%, the constant influx of patients adding to tremendous work pressure on the resident doctors. The first phase of the strike began on November 27 and continued till December 6, while the second phase began on December 17 and finished on December 31. During the second phase, most of the resident doctors had left OPD as well as the emergency services. The prime demand of the doctors was to accelerate the process of the NEET-PG counselling. In Delhi, approximately 5500 doctors were raising their voices against the delay of the counselling and around 45000 doctors have been sitting at homes after qualifying for the exam.

Complaining of the shortage of workforce in the hospital, a resident doctor from Safdarjung hospital told this paper, “Ideally, we work for 48 hours and sleep for only 5 to 6 hours. Then, we go for the next shift; moreover, we don’t even get any sick leave and keep on resuming our work due to the shortage of doctors. In the absence of the new batch, we have been working tirelessly.”

Several hospitals such as Safdarjung Hospital, University College of Medical Sciences, Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College, and Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital along with Kasturba hospital and Hindu Rao hospital joined the protest.

The counselling for NEET-PG has remained suspended because the matter of reservation has been challenged by several petitioners since the Medical Counselling Committee provided 27% reservation to OBC and 10% quota to EWS in NEET-PG.