About two thousand resident doctors working in government medical colleges and hospitals across Gujarat went on strike at the beginning of August 2021. The doctors were protesting a state government order reneging on a policy that allowed doctors who served in COVID-19 wards to serve a shorter period of mandatory government service. This policy reversal was at the centre of the protest but the doctors also raised other issues such as recognition of the sacrifices made by doctors during the pandemic, payment as per the seventh pay commission, postings in their parent academic institutes to compensate for the experience they missed while on COVID-19 duty and for their senior residency to be recognised as bond duty. The doctors called the strike off after 10 days even though the state government made only a minor concession on one of their demands.
Medical students in government institutions in Gujarat are required to serve a year of bond service, mostly in rural postings, after completing their three-year post-graduation courses. Students can opt out of this bond service only by paying Rs 40 lakh. Many doctors return to the colleges they graduate from for a one-year senior residency after their year of bond service. This qualifies them to assume teaching roles at their respective institutes.
During the peak of the second wave of coronavirus in April and May 2021, the Gujarat government devised an incentive for post-graduate students to remain on campus and help with the COVID-19 patient load. Jai Prakash Shivahare, the health commissioner of Gujarat, issued an order on 12 April which said that each day of COVID-19 duty by junior resident doctors would be counted as two days of their compulsory bond service. COVID-19 duty included attending to COVID-19 patients as well as working in the testing and triage areas of the hospital. Each graduating batch of doctors would be allowed to stay at their medical colleges for three extra months to ensure that the hospitals were not understaffed while dealing with the coronavirus surge.