As many as 95 of the 345 medical officers recruited recently by the Punjab health department have not joined their duty mainly because the meagre salary and the probationary status of their job at least for two years. The medical officers are being offered an initial consolidated salary of Rs 15,000 per month. Over 100 of the 404 doctors selected last year, too, didn’t join the government assignment.
A little over 400 MOs have been working under this year-old arrangement in line with the January 1, 2015 notification that fixes Rs 15,000 as the initial salary for the two-year probation period for MBBS doctors.
In August last year, 104 of the 404 doctors didn’t join the office. That batch of 300 will be completing the two-year probation in August 2017 without any raise or appraisal in-between.
“How can we expect the MBBS pass-outs to survive on a paltry sum of `15,000. Money is too meagre, especially considering the fact that most of these doctors are posted far away from their native places,” said Dr Gagandeep Singh, president of the PCMS Association.
“All the 2,388 posts of MOs across the state would have been filled had all the newly recruited MOs joined their duty,” Punjab director, health and family welfare, Dr HS Bali told HT, a day after the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) association cadres held a sit-in protest seeking to do away with the probation period for all MOs.
After the 104 selected MOs did not join duty last year, principal secretary, health, Vini Mahajan had written to the finance department, seeking nod to allow recruitment of MOs at full salary. The finance department, however, rejected the plea. The health department, however, could convince the government to recruit specialist doctors (MD) at full pay-scale through walk-in interviews.
Appointments in hinterlands
The new fleet of 270 MOs will serve in the “difficult” and “very difficult” areas. The “very difficult” stations categorised as ‘D’ require 42 MOs. These areas mainly fall in Mansa, Muktsar, Fazilka and Ferozepur districts.
Similarly, the category ‘C’ (difficult) stations require 68 doctors, mainly in Bathinda, Ferozepur, Faridkot, Moga, Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts.
State short of doctors
The health department also faces a challenge of filling the posts of specialist doctors with nearly 23% of them lying vacant across the state. Not a single candidate turned up at a walk-in interview for 41 posts of radiologists and 28 that of psychiatrists last month. Against the 111 posts of paediatrician and 49 that of medicine advertised by the government, only one selection was made in each category. Only seven of the total 47 posts advertised for anaesthetists could be filled up during the drive, besides six surgeons against 43 posts, seven gynaecologists against 19 posts and three orthopedics against 13 posts were selected.
Probation period extended to three years
The Punjab government in its cabinet meeting on Saturday last resolved to extend the probation period for all the new recruitment from two to three years. This will be applicable to those appointed to 12,747 posts of different cadres cutting across six state government departments. The new recruits will be paid initial pay drawn on the day of appointment for three years. Thereafter, they will draw full salary and allowances as admissible in the relevant service rules.
Total posts of medical doctors (MOs) in state: 2,388
Vacant (before last month’s counselling): 350
Total posts of specialists: 1,755
Vacant (before last month’s counselling): 345
A probationer medical officer’s salary: Rs 1,5000 (consolidated)
Regular medical officer: Rs 61,500 (approximately)