Punjab health minister Madan Mohan Mittal on Thursday requested officials of his department, especially doctors, not to go on strike or tender resignations in protest against their transfers. He asked doctors to join at the new place of postings allotted to them.
More than 500 medical officers, emergency medical officers and specialists in the state have been transferred in the past fortnight. Justifying the move, Mittal called it an attempt to "rationalise" the strength of doctors and specialists posted in health centres and hospitals across the state.
"Many health centres have no doctors, while a large number of them have more than the number required, so we rationalised the postings and also ensured that the government's policy of providing health facility to every citizen within 10-km radius is followed," the minister added, while refusing to disclose the number of doctors transferred.
"Doctors indulging in private practice are upset after being transferred," Mittal said, claiming that there were a large number of cases where doctors in government service were helping their spouses run a private clinic or nursing home.
Denying vicitimisation, the minister said if any doctor was unhappy with his transfer, he could approach senior officials of the department or him (Mittal). Genuine grievances would be addressed, he said. The minister appealed to government doctors to work as a team for the welfare of patients, especially the poor.
He stated that the health department would soon start a process to recruit 500 doctors. Mittal clarified that postgraduate doctors were not supposed to do emergency duties. "The department would make sure that specialists are not involved in petty medico-legal cases," he added. Secretary, health, Husan Lal and assistant media adviser to Punjab government Vineet Joshi were present on the occasion.
Rules out police action
The minister clarified that government doctors found indulging in private practice were not liable to be booked in a criminal case by the police. "The health department has its own system to deal with such cases. Such doctors are made to face a departmental inquiry," said Mittal. He was apparently referring to criminal cases registered against government doctors following 'raids' conducted by chief parliamentary secretary (health) Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu.