Health Care Row Leaves 300 Doctors In The Lurch
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12 July 2010
By Sumitra Deb Roy
The tiff between two arms of healthcare in the state–medical education and health services–is set to get murkier as the fate of 300–odd doctors lies in limbo. Though doctors have got a stay on their transfer orders for now, the fight may not be over as yet.
The Directorate of Health Services (DHS), earlier this year, had proposed to abolish 300 posts of doctors who were serving in the 14 medical colleges of the state that come under Directorate of Medical Education and Research (DMER). Most of these doctors were issued transfer orders on July 1 to move to rural and district hospitals that come under the purview of the Department of Health Services (DHS).
These doctors have been serving as medical superintendents, medical officers and resident medical officers. They conduct post–mortems, look after medico–legal cases, among other work in medical colleges. The proposal aimed to move these doctors from hospitals in Mumbai, where they were largely doing administrative work, to rural areas that face a huge crunch.
The doctors then moved the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT) and got a stay on the transfer orders this Friday. “The tribunal found that the transfers were illegal and done in unexplained haste,” said a doctor. He is one of the 75 doctors who have managed to get a stay. “The government issued pre–dated transfer orders in gross violation of the Transfer Act,” the doctor added. The orders bore the date of May 31 when they were actually issued on July 1. “Also mid–tenure, transfer orders need the chief minister’s signature, which was missing in these letters,” the doctor said.
The stay order has brought little respite to doctors as the DMER filled up its posts while these doctors fought their case in the MAT. Within a few days, the JJ Group of hospitals managed to fill 29 of 43 posts, which were originally occupied by DHS doctors.
On the issue, dean of JJ hospital Dr T P Lahane said, “We cannot take the doctors back even if they have a stay as we have already filled the posts. The newly recruited officers have been reporting to work since July 6.” According to him, now the court has to decide whether the new recruits can work in those posts or those doctors who are on deputation from DHS will be brought back.
This transition is creating administrative problems in hospitals. “In the absence of administrators, services at the casualty ward suffer. There is a delay in treatment of BPL patients,” said a JJ Hospital source. In the state–run JJ group of hospitals, associate professors are also taking care of administrative work.