Poor facilities, lack of incentives, heavy work load and low salaries in government hospitals have forced doctors to look for greener pastures.
The attrition rate in the public health department is going up with many doctors opting for private hospitals which are paying very high salaries. Two weeks ago, a doctor in the district hospital joined a private hospital in the city. Many of his colleagues are waiting in their wings to join healthcare majors in the city.
Those who do not want to join private sector hospitals are seeking “more lucrative” deputation as faculty members in government medical colleges. Reason: While the state government had set the retirement age for its doctors as 58 years, the ones teaching at medical colleges can work till 65 years of age. Also, it comes with other benefits as well. As a result, specialists and general physicians in Haryana prefer a teaching job to one at a public healthcare facility.
The government has already posted four doctors of the district hospital at Shaheed Hassan Khan Mewati Government Medical College.
This has resulted in manpower crunch in the district hospital which has been facing acute shortage of doctors for long.
According to experts, government policies are responsible for the high attrition rate. “After serving for 15 years in Haryana, there is no promotion or salary hike for a doctor. The career stagnates but work load increases. The scope of work has not been defined too. They dress wounds and conduct post-mortems. Moreover, doctors are appraised after serving for five, 10 and 15 years only. Compare this with the Central government or neighbouring Punjab where doctors are appraised after four, nine, 13 and 20 years of service. As a result, two years ago, about 150 doctors from Haryana shifted to Punjab when the latter advertised job vacancies,” said Dr Kuldeep Singh, president of the Haryana Civil Medical Services Association (HCMSA).
According to the HCMSA, Out of 3,000 posts, 1,000 are lying vacant. About 300 doctors have been absent from duty for unknown reasons for more than one year.
The director general of the public health department, Narender Arora, however, denied the claims, saying the figures were incorrect. “Only 434 posts are lying vacant and we had placed an advertisement nearly a month ago. Coming Friday is the last date for application.”
One of the doctors, on the condition of anonymity, shared his experience of 25 years in the Civil Hospital with Hindustan Times.
“Why wouldn’t a doctor want to shift to teaching? Professors are paid more than a chief medical officer (CMO). Four years ago, when there were no dedicated doctors for post-mortem, I was made to perform the procedures regularly. It was not even my job,” he said.
The director general, however, begs to differ and says the government has a plan in mind.
“Conducting post-mortems is a doctor’s duty. We have made two proposals to the government - employing specialists after retirement (in final stage) and extending retirement age to 60 years (under consideration),” Arora said.