No takers for Rs 1.25 lakh salaries, Karnataka moves to online bidding for docs | health | Hindustan Times
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No takers for Rs 1.25 lakh salaries, Karnataka moves to online bidding for docs

The government has been trying various ways of encouraging doctors to put in service in government hospitals.

health Updated: Jul 04, 2017 19:24 IST
Vikram Gopal
Karnataka has an average of one doctor per 816 people, which is better than the World Health Organisations minimum recommendation of one for every thousand.
Karnataka has an average of one doctor per 816 people, which is better than the World Health Organisations minimum recommendation of one for every thousand.(File Photo)

The Karnataka government has decided to resort to online bidding of salaries for doctors to increase the number of specialists in the government hospitals in the rural areas.

Health minister Ramesh Kumar on Monday said there was an acute shortage of doctors as there were 1,035 vacancies for specialists in government hospitals and that there was an alleged complete indifference from doctors towards repeated invitations for applications to apply for the positions.

“Despite being offered salaries of Rs 1.25 lakh, specialist doctors are not willing to work in government hospitals,” Kumar said. “Hence, we want them to suggest how much they want, and they will be appointed if their bids are approved,” Kumar added.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Edward Premdas Pinto, director of research and advocacy at the Centre for Health and Social Justice, said the reason for the lack of enthusiasm for government services was because joining government hospitals would mean they would have to give up on private practice.

“Even if the remuneration was increased to Rs 2 lakh, it is doubtful if there would be many takers,” Pinto said. “For doctors in the private sector, consultation fee is a very small component of their income. They earn a lot from referrals and other means,” he said.

On the other hand, Pinto said there had been a shift in the thinking of the state government, which had relied on state-sponsored health insurance schemes and decreased its outlay for public health infrastructure.“This has meant that people have had to rely on private medical care because of the poor infrastructure in the public sector,” Pinto added.

According to the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC) ,there are 1,16,000 registered doctors. However, H Veerabhadrappa, president of the KMC, said around 40,000 people might not be active among these as data includes those registered from 1932, when the KMC came into being.

Dr Veerabhadrappa said doctors had been asked to renew their licences, but progress so far had been slow. “We estimate that about 20,000 have moved to practice in other states, 10,000 have moved abroad, and about 10,000 might have passed away.”

Dr Veerabhadrappa pegged the number of active doctors to be about 75,000. This means Karnataka has an average of one doctor per 816 people, which is better than the World Health Organisations minimum recommendation of one for every thousand.

According to the report of the 71st round of National Sample Survey, published in 2014, 81.7% of urban residents in Karnataka received treatment in private healthcare facilities, the highest in the country, while it was 73.2% per cent in rural areas, the fourth highest.

The report also states that Karnataka is third in the list of states, behind Gujarat and Maharashtra, that either partially or fully repays patients for treatment. At 44 cases of hospitalization hospitalisation reimbursed per 1,000, Karnataka is third behind Gujarat and Maharashtra.

The government has tried various ways of encouraging doctors to put in service in government hospitals. It even made one-year service in government hospitals mandatory for all those medical graduates who studied in government seats. This, too, has failed, with the government deciding to charge 688 doctors in May for skipping the one-year mandatory government service.

Dr Veerabhadrappa said some of those who had been served notices for cancellation of registration had paid back the money for the course, in order to skip the rule. “Some others have challenged it in courts,” he said.