Kerala warns of stern action against agitating doctors

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Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 19 (UNI) Asserting that the government has favourably considered almost all the demands of the agitating doctors, Kerala Health Minister P K Sreemathy today warned of stern action if the doctors continued their ''non-cooperation'' strike.

Talking to newspersons here, she said ''as the Health Department has considered almost all their demands positively, the government has no other alternative than taking stern action against the doctors, who were reluctant to do special duties during Sabarimala pilgrimage season.'' As the government had already informed its decision that it could not entertain the Kerala Government Medical Officers (KGMO) Association's demand for a pay hike in the entry cadre, the Health Department could not take a decision on it, she added.

Ms Sreemathy said the ''stubborn'' attitude of the KGMO, boycotting the special duties at the Sabarimala Hill shrine, where lakhs of devotees visited, was a challenge to the pilgrims.

However, she said, the government and the Health Department had taken all possible measures, including appointing 43 doctors in place of 35 doctors in the last season at 'Sannidhanam', 'Pamba' and other vantage points to provide medical care to the Ayyappa devotees. It had also arranged accommodation facilities, for the first time, to the doctors serving at Sabarimala, she added.

Reacting to the doctors' threat of resigning en masse, she said the government would accept their resignation if it was submitted to the Health Department.

So far, the department had suspended 32 government doctors for boycotting special duties at Sabarimala, she said and added that the government would opt for the service of the doctors from National Rural Health Mission and Medical Colleges and of retired persons.

The KGMOA had called for the strike against the anomalies in the pay structure.

UNI

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