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Centre moves states on all India medical services cadre; Bihar docs go in huddle

The Union health ministry is considering creation of an all India medical service cadre for setting up a body of professional doctors across the country. It has sought opinion on the matter from states including Bihar.

india Updated: Jul 02, 2017 19:58 IST
Ruchir Kumar
Ruchir Kumar
Hindustan Times, Patna
Union health secretary,CK Mishra,all India medical service
There is only one doctor for every 1,700 Indians as against the desired ratio of 1:1,000. (Representative image)

The Centre has sought comments from the state on creation of an All India Medical Service (IMS) under all India service, on lines of the Indian administrative service (IAS) and the Indian police service (IPS).

In a letter, dated June 9, to chief secretaries of all states and union territories, received here on June 22, Union health secretary CK Mishra said the government was considering creation of an all India medical service for setting up a body of professional doctors across the country.

Talking to the Hindustan Times over phone from New Delhi, Mishra said, “It is just an idea, which came up during discussion with some secretaries. We are exploring responses of all states. Only if they react positively, we will proceed ahead on the issue, otherwise we will not.”

Asked by when he expected states to respond, Mishra said, “Ideally, they should in two months time. If they do not, we will proceed with whatever responses we get from states and union territories.”

He said, “The doctors of Central health service, an organised group ‘A’ service under the ministry of health and family welfare, dealing with monitoring of various government health schemes, have never worked in states, and as such, do not have an appropriate perspective of the problems being faced by the state governments. Creation of the all India medical service may facilitate bridging this gap and improve technical leadership and management both at the Centre and the state levels.”

HT’s efforts to know Bihar government’s stand proved futile. Chief secretary Anjani Kumar Singh said, “Please contact principal secretary, health.”

Health brass, RK Mahajan, however, did not respond to calls or text message, informing him that the chief secretary had asked this reporter to contact him for comments on the IMS issue.

General secretary of the Contractual Doctors Association (CDA), Bihar, Dr Abhishek Kumar Sinha said, “We have sought opinion of our members on this. We had first raised the issue of having an all India medical service at our meeting in Panchkula (Haryana). We also submitted a memorandum to the then Union health minister Harsh Vardhan during his visit to Patna in 2014.”

Dr Sinha said, “The core committee of the CDA-Bihar and the Bihar State Health Services Association (BSHSA) will meet on July 9 to discuss the issue.”

BSHSA general secretary Dr Ranjit Kumar said, “I have already spoken to state units of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand and asked them to discuss the issue threadbare before arriving at a consensus on IMS. We will then hold a national level meet on this and come up with a unified stand on it to be put forth to the Centre. We will also invite the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to join us in our core committee meeting.”

IMA-Bihar vice president Dr Sunil Kumar Singh said the IMS proposal was pending for almost three decades. “The department of personnel and administrative reforms notified its formation on January 25, 1977, but subsequently cancelled it. Since then various committees and even the 5th Central Pay Commission in 1997 had recommended it,” he added.

Those in favour of IMS believe that for starters, a central cadre of doctors, having perks and pay at par with IAS officers, could improve service conditions and address the exodus of doctors and shortage of manpower in public healthcare.

Government data reveals that there is only one doctor for every 1,700 Indians as against the desired ratio of 1:1,000. Better implementation of national health programme was another argument in favour of the idea.

Others also opined that creation of IMS would take care of the administrative part of healthcare sector while those out of it could concentrate on medical education and treatment of patients.

First Published: Jul 02, 2017 19:58 IST