With hundreds of vacant posts of specialist doctors yet to be filled, the Punjab government’s policy to recruit these doctors through walk-in interviews has come a cropper, thus causing an extra dearth of specialist health care in the state.
Figures procured from the health department reveal that against a total of 358 vacancies, the walk-in interview for which was held on November 11 last year, only 16 specialist doctors were recruited.
Moreover, of these 16 doctors, only four have joined their duty till April 27 while the rest refrained from joining the government-run health care system given its sorry state of affairs. These doctors have been given the deadline of May 4 for joining or else their recruitment will stand cancelled.
The protesting Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS)-cadre specialist doctors are of the view that the state government’s health policy has failed to attract such doctors.
Dr Ashok Kumar, president, PCMS Specialist Doctor Association, Jalandhar, said, “The state government brought in a notification for the specialist cadre on April 21, 1989. Twenty six years have passed since then but the notification was never passed, and the specialist doctors are treated like MBBS doctors.”
The fact that specialist doctors are refraining from government services is clearly visible from the recruitment records of specialist doctors of the state government.
After getting a poor response in November last year, the state government announced another walk-in interview on March 2 when only 68 specialist doctors were recruited against 343 vacancies.
However, it is only matter of time that the exact number of doctors joining duty will be clear once the deadline for joining comes to an end, which will be in July or August.
The health department is facing a huge staff crunch and around 275 posts of specialist doctors are yet to be filled.
Furthermore, PCMS specialist doctors are on indefinite strike till May 15, thus stalling all specialist work, including surgery at all health centres across the state.
Dr Raman Gupta, a PCMS-cadre specialist doctor in Jalandhar, said, “The state is fast losing good specialist doctors to private hospitals and other states due to its policies. It has resulted in the exploitation of specialist doctors. We will remain on strike and impart only emergency duties till the state government meets our demands.”