Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar pay resident doctors (MBBS degree holders pursuing postgraduation) the most. Chhattisgarh,
, Gujarat and Haryana are also among the
for doctors at different levels in government-run hospitals. Interns (those in the final year of their MBBS course) in Maharashtra are among the worst paid even after a recent hike; only three other states, Rajasthan, MP and UP, pay lower. And specialists – senior residents pursuing a superspecialty course – are better off in the rural parts of Chhattisgarh, Haryana and UP where they earn Rs 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh a month, compared to Maharashtra where they get an average Rs 59,000.
At a time when resident doctors across the country are on the frontlines attending to Covid-19 patients, there is wide variation in their stipend depending on which part of India they serve. Chhattisgarh pays the maximum. UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, all pay Rs 80,000-Rs 1 lakh a month while Maharashtra and the
lie in the mid-range, paying a monthly stipend of Rs 40,000-Rs 60,000. The Medical Council of India plans to make stipend post-MBBS uniform across the country, but the plan is yet to be cleared by all states.
Interns posted in central government-run hospitals are paid the highest, Rs 23,500 a month. Across India in state-run hospitals, their stipend varies from as low as Rs 7,000 in Rajasthan to the highest in
now at Rs 30,000. Medical interns are students who have completed four-and-a-half years at a med school and do their compulsory rotational residential internship at a hospital attached to the medical college before getting the MBBS degree.
While interns in Maharashtra get a stipend of Rs 6,000, it was recently hiked to Rs 11,000 by the state. But BMC hospitals in Mumbai are yet to effect the change. Residents and senior residents in the state get Rs 54,000 and Rs 59,000, respectively (average of three years). The BMC recently announced a temporary stipend of Rs 50,000 for MBBS interns for their work in the Covid-19 wards. But a permanent increase of Rs 10,000 is expected for residents, said the head of
the Directorate of Medical Education and Research
T P Lahane.
“Even after the recent hike of Rs 5,000, the state has among the lowest stipend that we pay our medical interns. That has a lot of scope for improvement,” said Dr Praveen Shingare, former DMER head. “Moreover, some hospitals like Yavatmal and the BMC-run hospitals slash tax on stipend, what residents get in hand varies across Maharashtra too,” he added.
At the postgraduate level, the stipend varies for every state as also for each year of the resident. In some states, there are multiple scales; to attract talent, the stipend offered to residents in rural areas is higher compared to what is paid in urban centres. For instance, in Chhattisgarh, residents in rural areas are paid Rs 20,000-30,000 more and seniors are paid Rs 1.5 lakh as compared to their counterparts in city hospitals who take home Rs 1.3 lakh a month. One of the reasons Bihar, UP, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand pay government doctors much higher, experts say, is because of the dependence on the public healthcare network in these states as compared to Maharashtra, TN or Karnataka, which have more hospitals driven by charitable trusts and private practitioners.
Founder member of Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare Dr Babu KV has for long been writing to the MCI for a uniform stipend for interns, residents and seniors. “Just before the lockdown, the MCI was going to clear that rule for interns. Step two would be to bring about parity for PG residents and super-specialists too,” he said.
In Maharashtra, doctors complain that not only does the stipend vary across states, so does their tuition and tax rules. While most states do not cut tax from the stipend, some do. Apart from that, resident doctors also pay an annual tuition cost. “Nowhere in the world do resident doctors pay hospitals for training. Why should they (postgraduates and superspecialty candidates) pay tuition fees? This is an anomaly we first need to straighten out in India. They are made to pay because there are only a few slots for PG and superspecialty. If these seats are increased, the business model of medical education will collapse,” said cardiac surgeon Dr Devi Shetty.