Karnali provincial hospital doctors protest demanding encouragement allowanceThe doctors said in a statement on Thursday that they decided to protest after the provincial government didn’t give them the extra money.
Junior doctors working at the Surkhet-based Karnali Provincial Hospital have stopped reporting on duty, except during emergencies after the government denied them their encouragement allowance.
In January, the provincial Cabinet had decided to provide encouragement allowances to government employees in the province. Although medical specialists of ninth, tenth and eleventh class have been receiving encouragement allowances since January, eighth class medical officers have not received the amount yet.
“The government declared an encouragement allowance for doctors. But we haven’t been given the allowance yet,” said Dr Prakashraj Oli, a protesting doctor. “Other doctors belonging to the ninth, tenth and eleventh levels are receiving allowance based on the Cabinet decision, ” said Oli.
According to the decision, eleventh level specialist doctors are to receive 75 percent to 135 percent of their basic salary as allowance for working in Karnali.
Similarly, specialist doctors of ninth and tenth level are to receive allowances equivalent to 75 to 125 percent of their basic salary. For other health workers, the figure stands at 50 to 100 percent allowance based on the geographical remoteness of the districts they are deployed in.
In Surkhet, eighth level doctors were to receive an extra 50 percent on their basic salary whereas those of ninth, tenth and eleventh levels were to receive allowances equivalent to 75 percent of their basic salary.
The confusion over the disbursement of encouragement allowance to health workers under various categories stemmed from the notice released by the Ministry of Financial Affairs and Planning in January itself. The notice specified that only specialist doctors are to receive the allowance.
Dr Dambar Khadka, director at the hospital, said the notice issued by the Ministry of Financial Affairs and Planning needs clarity to resolve the ongoing issue. The notice reads, “Only specialist doctors (even those on contract) will be eligible for encouragement allowance, except for doctors in other levels.”
Khadka adds, “Eighth-level doctors do not come under ‘medical specialists’ which means they are not eligible for the allowance declared by the provincial Cabinet meeting, according to the statement released by the ministry.”
The eighth-level doctors have been frequenting the Ministry of Social Development, Ministry of Financial Affairs and Planning and Chief Minister’s Office with their problems.
On Wednesday, they issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the government to resolve the issue saying that things would get complicated after the current fiscal year ends in the next few weeks. “The authorities concerned have not taken any decisions yet even though the fiscal year is drawing to a close. Because of this, we are compelled to halt all services,” the agitating doctors said in a statement .
A total of 56 doctors are working at Karnali Provincial Hospital out of which 30 are medical officers. “It’s the medical officers who are working on the frontline. These doctors are also mobilised to combat Covid-19 infection,” said Khadka.
Meanwhile, Prakash Jwala, Minister for Financial Affairs and Planning in Karnali Province, said, “I do not know much about the “technical” aspects of encouragement allowance. But, the ministry is making preparations to resolve the problem.”