Rural medical officers (RMOs) working under the rural development and panchayats department, Punjab, who have been denied postgraduate (PG) quota in medical colleges, have accused the state health department of double standards in assigning them duties in flood-hit areas.
The RMOs, who had been on strike for almost three weeks, resumed work on Wednesday on the assurance by rural development and panchayat minister Surjit Singh Rakhra to consider their demand for a rural health cadre.
However, Dr Aslam Parvez, state president of the Rural Medical Services Association (RMSA), said rural doctors would continue to boycott the health department as it had been discriminating against doctors working under the rural development and panchayats department.
The principal secretary, health, had recently filed an affidavit in the Punjab and Haryana high court, stating that rural doctors were appointed only for preventive services and they were not providing any emergency services, thus they need not be given any chance to pursue MD/MS under the specified government quota.
Dr Karan Trehan, an RMO from Ferozepur district and RMSA member, said about 30 doctors were posted in flood-affected and surrounding blocks under the health department but no doctor from the department itself had been assigned such duties.
"A few PCMS doctors initially assigned flood duties were relieved to attend training in Amritsar," he added.
He claimed that of the 32 RMOs posted in Feroz Shah, Mamdot, Kassuanaa and Makhu blocks under the rural development department, 14 were doing these emergency duties in remote areas. Some of the RMOs posted in Makhu block are covering a distance of almost 70 km to perform these duties, whereas medical officers working under the health department, posted near flood-affected areas, have not been given flood duties, he added.
Dr Deepika Puri from Ludhiana, who is the finance secretary of the RMSA, while referring to the flood-hit Sultanpur block of Kapurthala district, said none of the 14 doctors posted under the health department was performing flood duties, while all seven RMOs posted in the block were on the job.
Dr Ashok Nayyar, director, health and family welfare, Punjab, said duties in flood-hit areas had also been assigned to PCMS doctors, but since the RMOs were more in number, their services had been utilised more in an emergency. "Some posts of PCMS doctors are lying vacant in the state. We will fill these in a couple of days," he added.