The Punjab health department is likely to terminate the services of at least 44 specialist doctors who did not join work after getting government job since 2011.
Despite repeated notices to them, 15 such doctors from the 2011 batch and 29 of those recruited this year are likely to face the axe, as only then the department would be able to fill up these slots.
The state director, health and family welfare, had issued a public notice on August 30, that stated, "Last and final opportunity is being given through this public notice to these doctors to submit their joining by September 15. The services of those medical officers who do not submit their joining by this date will be terminated without any further notice."
A senior official in the health department here stated that several of them were reportedly abroad or working in the private sector.
Confirming the development, director health and family welfare Dr Ashok Nayar said the modalities to "cancel the appointments" of these specialist doctors had been completed.
On the older cases, in which 112 doctors, both MBBS and specialists, were found missing from work as on May 2012, Dr Nayar said several of them had joined after the notices were served to them. He, however, said about 25 such cases were still pending to be decided in which a decision would be taken within two months.
HT had reported on May 26, 2012 as to how the doctors remained absent from government duty for years together, blatantly cocking a snook at the Hippocratic oath. They were 'missing' from hospitals across Punjab, many for the past more than five years.
Many of them were simply absconding from their working stations for six to seven years, some of them not reporting back after the lapse of their six-month ex-India leave.
In the absence of a policy to tackle such absentees, health minister Madan Mohan last year had extended the time for their possibility of rejoining work. But, till date, the government has not come out clearly as to how many of these 112 had re-joined.
As per the norms, Punjab needs 1,277 specialist doctors across all its hospitals, while the actual strength currently is 967.
Before filling this gap of 310 doctors, the health department was keen on filling up the vacant posts of the absentee doctors. "This can only be done after officially terminating the appointments of the absentees," a senior official in the health department said.
Short by 300 specialists
Of the nearly 300 more specialists needed in government hospitals, the health department falls short of at least 60 paediatricians, 50 anaesthetists, 40 gynaecologists, besides orthopaedics, ophthalmologists, radiologists, as per the official figures on the health department's website www.pbhealth.gov.in.
There has been no move, however, to fix the accountability of senior health officials for not cancelling the appointments of at least 15 doctors who did not report for work after their appointment two years back.
This means the posts filled up in papers and practically vacant have led to suffering of poor patients in government hospitals, especially in deliveries and surgeries in emergency cases.
The 44 doctors whose appointments will be cancelled are Jatinder Singh, Krishan Kumar Aggarwal, Saurabh Uppal, Anshul Singla, Amandeep Kaur, Ramanpreet Kaur, Shankerdeep Sondhi, Yogesh Garg, Mahesh Goyal, Kanwaljit Singh Bajwa, Gunjan, Maninder Sandhu, Supreet Kaur, Ivy Sandhu, Pawan Kumar, Anirudh Goyal, Sunil Singla, Satwinderpal Singh, Neelu Chugh, Vishav Goyal, Misha Goel, Jyoti Mittal, Dinesh Kumar, Jagkirat Singh, Kabir Bhartim, Harsimranpreet, Prabhjot Singh, Maneesh Sahni and Manpreet Kaur (all of the July-August 2013 recruitment batch);And Preet Kanwar Singh Sodhi, Divya Sharda, Amandeep Singh Sidhu, Sukhpal Singh, Prabhjot Kauir, Avneet Kaur, Akanksha Bajaj, Dimple Kapoor, Priya Bharat, Tajinder Kaur and Gaurav Kumar (all from the 2011 recruitment batch).