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HEAL THYSELF

The Health Department recently released a list of around 1,000 missing government doctors. The Health Department was not aware of the whereabouts of these doctors after they joined the Provincial Medical Health Services .Joint directors in the Health Department conducted surprise checks at district hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres across the State in mid-December. Over 600 doctors were found absent. Addressing a public meeting, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav called upon the government doctors to render services in rural areas.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2006 00:11 IST

With over a thousand government doctors missing, 3,000 posts lying vacant, low perks and lack of facilities, the PMHS has lost its sheen .

The Health Department recently released a list of around 1,000 missing government doctors. The Health Department was not aware of the whereabouts of these doctors after they joined the Provincial Medical Health Services (PMHS).

Joint directors in the Health Department conducted surprise checks at district hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres across the State in mid-December. Over 600 doctors were found absent.

Addressing a public meeting, Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav called upon the government doctors to render services in rural areas. According to Health Department officials, over 200 health centres located in villages were running without doctors.

GOVERNMENT DOCTORS are on the run in Uttar Pradesh and the State Government has launched a manhunt for them. On the directives of the Allahabad High Court, thousands of doctors were transferred and the government ordered cadre review of the services. Later, the government threatened action against errant doctors, but the condition in government hospitals still leaves a lot to be desired.

The Uttar Pradesh Medical Health Services (UPMHS) was once considered a prestigious service. It was the first choice of medicos passing out of medical colleges, but today the service has lost its sheen and is the last preference of students coming out of the portals of medical colleges.

Now, over 3,000 posts of doctors are lying vacant and no recruitment has been carried out in the last four years. In 1996, only 50 per cent of the doctors who qualified in the PMHS examination joined the service. In 1997, only 40 per cent of successful candidates joined duty. The graph continued its downward trend and in 1998 only 30 per cent of successful candidates joined the service.

Though the State Public Service Commission has initiated the process for recruitment of doctors, officials are worried as the best lot of medical colleges are shying away from the service. Why has the rot set in the prestigious service?

Provincial Medical Services Association (PMSA) president Dr RB Agarwal blames service conditions of government doctors and the social factor for the slide. In comparison to other state services, government doctors join the service late since they spend a long time on education. When a doctor joins the service, he finds officers of other government services enjoying better service conditions and perks.

Medical officers working with the Central Government are equal in rank to doctors of the State cadre, but Central cadre doctors get more non -practicising allowance (NPA). Even in Bihar, government doctors get 25 per cent NPA, whereas in UP it is 10 per cent.

While ordering the transfer of government doctors, the Allahabad High Court had directed the State Government to improve their service conditions, but in vain, Agarwal said.

“If the service conditions improve, attraction towards PMHS will automatically increase and doctors will work with devotion,” he said.

With modernisation, there has been a change in values. Earlier, doctors used to join the service to serve the have-nots and those residing in the remote areas, but now safety and comfort of the family is the top priority,” he said.

“A doctors hesitates to join health centres located in the rural areas since a majority of the centres are bereft of housing facilities and there is no school for education of the children. A super-specialist doctor in the Central Government is appointed in the pay scale of Rs 12,000- Rs 16,500, whereas in the State Government, a doctor with the same qualifications is appointed in the pay scale of Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000. Among 11,351 government doctors, there are only 12 super specialist doctors in UP,” he said. Agarwal said like other services, PMHS officers should be promoted to the IAS under All India Services (Recruitment by Selection) Rules 1994. Like the IAS, the IPS and the IFS, the government should constitute the Indian Medical Services, he says.

General secretary of PMHS Dr DR Singh blames the bureaucracy for the rot in the PMHS.

”Due to the wrong policies of the Health Department, the situation is going from bad to worse. Five principal secretaries have come and gone, but the cadre review of the PMHS is pending. The promotion of doctors is also pending and there is confusion galore in the department. All policies related with health services should be implemented properly,” Singh says.

“Even transfer of doctors has been carried out in a haphazard manner. In certain hospitals, a large number of specialist doctors have been posted, whereas posts are lying vacant in other hospitals. If the government has proof that government doctors are running private clinics and doing private practice, then why is action against them delayed,” Singh said.

King George’s Medical University (KGMU) vice-chancellor Prof Mahendra Bhandari says the Provincial Medical Health Services has virtually become static and lack of facilities has disheartened the doctors. After completing MBBS, doctors wish to continue academic pursuits.

In private services, along with money, doctors have ample time for study and research work, he says. Former KGMU Junior Doctors’ Association president Virendra Yadav says the PMHS is the last choice of Georgians and students of other medical colleges.

“We are not averse to rural posting, but doctors must get residential facilities and protection from hooligans. After spending a decade in studies, a doctor want a fruitful and peaceful career in the services. Once he joins the service and gets posted in rural areas, the basic question before him is where to get his children educated.”

Former General Secretary of PMSA and Samajwadi Party M LA Dr PK Rai says he has proposed to the State Government to construct residential complex for government doctors. Two residential Central Schools should be established for the education of their children. Stagnation, low perks, lack of facilities, posting in rural areas, irrespective of qualification, are some of reasons for the PMHS becoming lacklustre.

Hospital buildings are there, but doctors are missing, he laments.

First Published: Jan 01, 2006 00:11 IST