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The introduction of a non–practicing allowance for government doctors having failed to contain private practice, the Orissa government is now considering a move to streamline the same. The fact remains that patients coming from rural areas wanted to be treated by particular doctors, at times beyond their duty hours in the hospitals, and it cannot be prevented, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Kamala Das told the state assembly last night.

Hence, the government was actively considering a proposal under which doctors, if they wished, could stay beyond their duty hours in the hospital to treat patients who wanted to see them specifically. The patients could do so by paying a prescribed fee, a portion of which would go to the doctor, she said while replying to the debate on the demand for budgetary grants relating to her department.

There was no proposal to stop payment of the non–practicing allowance now, she said. The previous Congress government had slapped a ban on private practice by doctors of the three medical college hospitals located at Cuttack, Burla and Berhampur and the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar. Stating that the government was working on a health policy for the state, Das said steps were being taken to fill up vacancies in health centers located in rural areas. The minister said though a large number of Health Sub–Centers, Public Health Centers (PHC) and Community Health Centers (CHC) had been set up in the state, the infrastructure needed to be strengthened.

The state government had already finalized a Rs 70 crore program with World Bank assistance to improve facilities. In most cases, such health centers had been opened without their own buildings and they were functioning in rented houses. On several occasions, costly equipment had been procured without houses to install them, she said.

Referring to the refusal of doctors and other medical staff to get posted to remote areas, Das said it would be wrong to blame them when the government did not have any provision for their accommodation at such places. We have to remove all defects in the system, she said. (PTI)