Chennai: Even as the Indian Railway Pharmacists Association (IRPA) has won a case and got an order from the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Bangalore directing the Railway Board to maintain uniformity in assigning duties to pharmacists in the railway hospital pharmacies, the authorities have not yet implemented the order of the Tribunal, alleged Y Govardhan, President, IRPA (South Zone). The Tribunal issued the order in August 2013.
IRPA wants the work hours of the railway pharmacists should be restricted in OPD hours and fixed at par with those of lab technicians, radiographers and physiotherapists.
Govardhan said except the south west division of the southern zone of Indian railways, all other divisions are assigning pharmacists for general duties only, which start from 8 am and continue upto 6 pm, with two hours lunch break. He said there is no post sanctioned for round the clock duty as per the Yardsticks for Manpower Planning (YMP) for medical department of Indian railways, but the pharmacists are forced to work in night shift also.
Govardhan, who is working as the chief pharmacist in the Mysore division, says the shift duty system is now existing in the southern, south western and south central divisions of the southern zone.
According to him, the south zone branch of the Railway Pharmacists Association filed a case with the CAT in Bangalore and won a verdict in their favour, which directed the Railway Board to remove shift duty and implement general duty in the hospital pharmacies under the zone, as what is going on in the rest of the railway zones. He said the Tribunal wanted the Railways to adjust a work methodology for pharmacists, otherwise to follow the methods followed in other divisions without any kind of distinction or discrimination.
While speaking to Pharmabiz, he said though the Tribunal issued an order against assigning night duties for pharmacists, the concerned authorities are unwilling to implement it.
Regarding the yardsticks of manpower, he said the existing yardstick was formulated in 1986, which says one post of pharmacist is required to dispense medicines to 100 out-patients. Additional pharmacists are required for additional every 100 patients or part thereof, over and above the first 100 patients. When the Rule was introduced in 1986, the prescription to each patient was only four or five tablets. Now several new drugs have come, the number of patients and their diseases are many, with that the prescriptions have risen to 15 to 18 drugs for one patient depending up on the disease. He further said, though the number of patients visiting the OPD has increased, there is no parallel multiplication in the manpower of pharmacists. The situation has obviously augmented the workload of the dispensers.
Demanding that the shift duty should immediately be abandoned, he said the present system of assigning night duties is a kind of extraction of work from the pharmacists, and that too without giving additional payment or any other benefits. To a question he said, there is no need of shift duty for pharmacists in railway hospitals. The general duty time is 8 am to 1 pm and from 3 pm to 6 pm. Currently, they are assigned to work for a turn of eight hours duty for round the clock, Govardhan said.
There are 15 hospitals under the southern zone of Indian Railways and 23 health units. A total of 365 pharmacists are working in all these health centres.
The CAT also wanted the railway authorities to consider the seniority of pharmacists with the method followed in other divisions. In Mysore division, Govardhan said, the seniority is considered in the divisional level only, but it should be considered in the national level.