Thiruvananthapuram, June 20: Medical services at five government college hospitals in Kerala were affected as around 800 house surgeons went on a 24-hour strike today, demanding a hike in stipend and lesser working hours.
The strike hit casualty and surgical operations. Services at the labour room and ICU in the hospitals were also affected, hospital officials said.
Health Minister V S Sivkumar said the strike was unwarranted and would be dealt with strictly. Dr Ashwin of House Surgeons Association in the district said they had been demanding higher stipend for quite some time and lesser duty hours.
Prices of essential commodities had risen drastically. But their pleas had fallen on deaf ears, he said. The association sources said they had also met Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in this regard and plan to go on an indefinite strike from June 25 if their demands are not met.
The present stipend of Rs 15,000 was last increased in 2012. They are demanding that the stipend to be raised to Rs 23,000.
Dr Sunny, a house surgeon at Kozhikode medical college hospital said they had met various officials in the last six months, but to no avail and added that they were forced to work for 48 to 72 hours at a stretch.
"There is a severe shortage of nursing staff," he said. The house surgeons association plan to meet the Health Minister and Chief Minister later today.