New Delhi: The Federation of Residents Doctors Association (FORDA), an association of the resident doctors in Delhi, has expressed anguish against the Delhi government's latest order to deploy undergraduate MBBS (medicine) and BDS (dentistry) students on Covid duties in order to manage the scarcity of healthcare workers amid the raging Covid surge.
As per the association, the undergraduate students do not have the necessary skills to clinically manage the medical care of the Covid patients and hence, are also at the risk of contracting the infection.
"The UG students are not skilled enough. They are yet to undergo the basic training and internship. Engaging such students is like deploying an army without weapons. How would they fight or even manage the lethal pandemic?" said Shivaji Dev Barman, president, FORDA.
"Besides, the UG students have not gone any special training to work under such unforeseen circumstances. It will literally break them. The government must reconsider this decision," he added.
The order, which came last week, asked medical directors of the Covid hospitals to engage fourth and fifth year students of medicine, interns and undergraduate dentists to assist the doctors on Covid duty. The students would be paid a shift-wise honorarium (compensation), the order stated.
"In view of Covid-19 pandemic and increased demand of ICU beds and medical HR in the hospitals of GNCTD Delhi for management of Covid-19, all MDs/Directors of Covid Hospitals of GNCTD are permitted to engage 4th and 5th year MBBS students, Interns and BDS pass doctors to assist the duty doctors at the honorarium of Rs 1,000 (eight hours shift) and Rs 2,000 (12 hours shift) per day by exercising powers delegated to them u/s 50 of the Disaster Management Act. In case of interns, the honorarium would be over and above their stipend," the order read.
The FORDA suggested that the government should rope junior and senior resident doctors, who have the clinical experience and skills to manage the patients. "There is no dearth of senior or junior residents in the city. A vacancy attracts thousands of applications. The government should consider the trained staff," said Sunil Arora, general secretary, FORDA.
Apart from repealing the order, the association demanded representation of resident doctors in the state Covid task force and committee. "It will help the government in formulating policies related to doctors better," Barman reasoned.