State Firm on Rural Stint for Govt Doctors
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21 April 2010
By Clara Lewis
The alarm sounded by the ailing public health care network in Maharashtra is not lost on the state government. Realising that many doctors take up administrative work in urban areas just to avoid a stint in rural settings, public health minister Suresh Shetty has decided to repatriate all such paper–pushers to their original rural postings.
The issue of vacant posts in primary health centres and rural hospitals was on Tuesday raised by BJP legislator Sudhir Mungantiwar through a calling attention motion in the legislative assembly.
Shetty, while replying to the queries raised by the MLAs, came down heavily on doctors who are on deputation at various departments in the city.
Suresh Shetty: Public Health Minister
“There are 483 doctors who are on deputation to various departments,” Shetty informed the assembly. “There are 23 such doctors at Sir J J Hospital alone. While one is in charge of disposal of bio–medical waste, another looks after the laundry and a third one handles the kitchen,” he said, adding that “there are many others who are on deputation to various departments pushing paper.”
Pointing out that the issue of dearth of doctors in rural areas has been raised in the House time and again, the legislators lambasted the government for its failure to address the problem.
Shetty said all the 483 doctors would be repatriated to their parent departments with immediate effect so that they could do the work they have been recruited for. He added that his own Officer on Special Duty, Dr Sanjay Bagwe, would be sent back to his original posting by Tuesday evening.
When members protested that removing doctors from hospitals would jeopardise treatment in urban areas, Shetty said he has discussed the issue with his counterpart from the medical education department and senior doctors from the Directorate of Medical Education and Research. “They have assured me that there would not be any problem as these doctors are anyway not doing work,” he said.
Also, 2,800 doctors would be recruited in the next three months. This, said Shetty, would take care of the vacancies in various public health centres as well as rural hospitals.
To ensure that young doctors from urban areas shift base to rural Maharashtra, the government is planning to provide them with two–bedroomhall–kitchen quarters on a permanent basis. “If they are residing in one district and posted to another, they will be allowed to keep their accommodation,” said Shetty.
Doctors would also be provided with a vehicle, but will not be given any additional monetary benefit to make the rural posting more attractive, Shetty added. The minister said that the seniority list of doctors was not compiled once in the last 15 years. “We have started doing it now and will soon promote doctors,” he said.