Madhya Pradesh health minister Rustam Singh said efforts were being taken to hire more doctors to address the severe shortage in hospitals in the state.
“Yes, there is severe shortage of doctors in Madhya Pradesh, especially in government hospitals. Specialists are not available at all,” Singh said, expressing his “sympathy with the patients”.
“We are trying to recruit through Public Service Commission (PSC) and also hiring doctors on contract. We have also started inviting homoeopathic and ayurvedic doctors under AYUSH so that somehow we can address the shortage of doctors in the state,” he said.
Against the sanctioned 7,000 posts, the state is short of 4,000 doctors in 51 district hospitals, 66 civil hospitals, 335 community health centres, 1,170 primary health centres, 9,192 health sub-centres and 49,864 gram aarogya kendras.
The shortage has affected those working and increased dependence on contract staff, who go on strikes often.
When asked why young doctors don’t join state hospitals, Singh said, “It’s not that they do not want to join the department. The truth is very few are qualifying the post graduation every year.”
He also said that many pursuing medical education are “the sons and daughters of nursing home owners, studying only to work at their nursing homes and nowhere else”.
However, a doctor, on condition of anonymity, pointed out issues of poor salaries, lack of proper residential facilities and vague promotion and transfer policies.
“Doctors in private hospitals get a much higher better salary than those in public sector in Madhya Pradesh. So why should a young doctor work under the state’s health department?” the doctor asked.
“The government has brought schemes where it is mandatory for fresh post graduates to serve a stint in rural areas,” joint director, National Health Mission, Pankaj Shukla said.
He also said that the condition of health facilities will improve gradually due to the shortage of doctors. “Currently approximately 3,000 are in position,” he said.
Meanwhile unhappy with the central government’s treatment, 15 doctors resigned from Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC).
Singh said he had written to Union health minister JP Nadda, raising issues at BMHRC and the doctors’ resignation. “If he suggests, the state government will take over the hospital,” he said.