It’s strange but true that the Jharkhand health department has found a dozen cases of doctors being absent from their place of work for more than two years.
In a recent review meeting health officials found that seven doctors never took up their posts since 2013 and five others since 2014.
“They suddenly turn up after show cause notices are sent. Strange excuses of illness, lack of awareness of posting are put forth,” said principal secretary, health department K Vidyasagar.
He said the department was partly at fault. “I am surprised that civil surgeons (chief district medical officers) didn’t notify us. They should have been terminated or suspended them within a month of absenteeism,” said Vidyasagar.
The department has suspended and terminated the services of the 12 doctors.
In one of his first orders after assuming office, chief minister Raghubar Das asked officials to check absenteeism, particularly when it came to doctors serving in the rural health services.
Health officials said absenteeism was still prevalent in Jharkhand and was the root cause of low patient turnout at health centres. The problem existed despite biometric attendance systems being in place, said officials.
“Patient count at some of the health centres is above 400 while in some it’s 50 a month. This happens when doctors are not present. This is a grave problem in a state where the doctor to patient ratio is as low as 1:12,000,” said a senior health official on the condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
He said some doctors don’t mark their attendance in the biometric systems citing problems in the internet.
The department has instructed all its doctors to hold camps in villages and provide services to patients every week.
“This way we will ensure patients get services and doctors do field duties. Civil surgeons will be the monitoring authority,” said director-in-chief health services Jharkhand, Dr Sumant Mishra.
Mishra said each district hospital will be given dongles of different services and every month a biometric report has to be submitted .