MBBS interns may soon get uniform stipend

April 9, 2019 Off By FM

In a significant move, the Medical Council of India (MCI) Board of Governors has sought suggestions from stakeholders on the demand for a uniform stipend for MBBS interns across the country. The move is likely to benefit thousands of medical interns, particularly those in private medical colleges. In order to introduce uniform stipend for medical interns, the Graduate Medical Education (GME) Regulations 1997 will be amended.

The Board of Governors (BOG) issued a public notice in this regard on January 25, 2019. The stakeholders were requested to give their suggestions within 15 days. The notice says, “All candidates pursuing compulsory rotation internship at the institution from which the MBBS course was completed shall be paid stipend on par with the stipend being paid to the interns of the state government medical institution/ central government medical institution in the state/ union territory where the institution is located.” It further said, “All concerned are requested to give their comments/ suggestions within 15 days to bring the above amendment in regulations for payment of stipend to interns.”

A long-time demand
Students of private medical colleges have been demanding stipend on par with students of state and central government medical institutions for quite some time. At present, students of many of the private medical colleges are being paid a meagre amount as stipend. There were also cases of interns not being paid. There have been many incidents of MBBS interns resorting to protests for a reasonable stipend.

In many states, MBBS interns of state-run medical colleges are also being paid very less. They have been demanding an increase in stipend for a long time. In Maharashtra, medical interns are currently being paid a stipend of Rs 6,000 per month. But in states like West Bengal, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Assam and Kerala, medical interns are being paid a monthly stipend of Rs 20,000 or more.

Recently, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had increased the stipend of MBBS interns at central government medical colleges to Rs 23,500 from Rs 17,000.

Medical interns of various states have been conducting continuous protests, demanding a hike in their stipend. Last year, medical interns in Maharashtra staged an indefinite strike demanding a 40 per cent increase in stipend. Students under government quota in two private medical colleges in Karnataka had also staged protests last year against the non-payment of stipend. In Andhra Pradesh, medical interns of S.V. Ruia Government Medical College recently boycotted their duty as they had not been paid stipend for several months. The present move of the BOG is aimed at bringing an end to the discrimination faced by medical interns in the country.

Burden to fall on students?
Welcoming the move, Mohamed Asif Patel, Joint Secretary, Grant Government Medical College, Mumbai, said, “It will benefit medical interns across the country. The job interns do across the country is the same and therefore the stipend should also be uniform. The interns are working more than 60 hours in a week. In Maharashtra, medical interns are paid just Rs 6,000.” He added that the move will benefit medical interns in private medical colleges too, provided clear guidelines are set by the MCI.

However, there are apprehensions that the move doesn’t provide much relief to medical interns in private medical colleges as they are likely to charge stipend amount as part of the course fee. Commenting on the development, Dr P A Fazal Gafoor MD, Director, MES Academy of Medical Sciences, said, “It should be inbuilt in the fee. If it is made mandatory, the increased stipend will be inbuilt in the fee of students from next batch onwards. The house surgency stipend is also included in the course. If increased, it will fall on the students.”