Almost one in four doctors hired on a temporary basis to make up for the shortfall in hospital staff quits before the end of their 11-month contracts for better-paying jobs in the private sector.
On an average, the Delhi government hires about 200 doctors each year, of which roughly 50 resign before their contract ends. Apart from low salaries, doctors on contract are not eligible for regular perks such as annual increments, promotions, official accommodations, maternity and leave.
"We have even got six-seven resignations in a single day, but it is hard to stop those people from leaving when they find permanent job offers from elsewhere," said Delhi health minister AK Walia, admitting that the attrition rate was high among ad-hoc doctors in its hospitals.
"It will be rather unfair on our part to ask people to let go off permanent job offers that give them all the benefits that they did not get as a contractual employee," Walia added.
Doctors are hired on short-term contracts to fill vacancies because the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), on which government hospitals depend on for permanent recruitments, has a long-drawn recruitment procedure.
"Permanent recruitment is done by the UPSC, which takes time as all queries must be satisfied before a permanent recruitment is made. We had sent about 644 requests for medical officers and 76 for junior doctors last year but the recruitments could not be made as the exact percentage of SC, ST, OBC and general category posts had not been determined," said Walia.
"We can't keep the posts vacant till things are sorted, so we make ad-hoc recruitments to fill the gap," he added. An official in the government said that it was not feasible to send a request to the UPSC for filling vacancies every month. To provide relief, the health department decided to extend same benefits to its doctors under the Delhi Health Scheme.