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Shortage of staff: Punjab health department seeks to merge rural medicos with it

According to health minister Brahm Mohindra, the proposal has been mooted to bring all health services under one umbrella to meet the shortage of doctors.

punjab Updated: Oct 27, 2017 09:37 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Shortage of staff,staff crunch,Punjab health department
“While we have shortage of more than 47% doctors, the medicos working in the rural development department are not answerable to anybody,” Brahm Mohindra said. (Representative image )

To meet the shortage of doctors in government-run hospitals, the Punjab health department has put up a proposal for merging the staff working in dispensaries of the rural development and panchayati raj department with it.

The proposal is set to be discussed in a meeting of secretaries and ministers of health and rural development to be held on Monday.

According to health minister Brahm Mohindra, the proposal has been mooted to bring all health services under one umbrella to meet the shortage of doctors.

At present, the rural medicos are working under rural development and panchayati raj department.

“Time and again, question marks have been raised over the functioning of the medicos providing services in rural development department. Many sarpanches and block development officers (BDOs) of the department have also repeatedly complained in this regard,” said Mohindra while talking to HT.

The minister also claimed that for pursuing post-graduate courses, these doctors use the seats available under the health department, but they not ready to work under the department.

“While we have shortage of more than 47% doctors, the medicos working in the rural development department are not answerable to anybody. There are certain other issues as well, but any decision in this regard will be taken after studying all ground realities,” said the minister.

To strengthen the health infrastructure in rural areas, the doctors and other para-medical employees were recruited under the separate cadre of the rural development and panchayati raj department in 2006 with a rider that they would work under the BDOs and won’t be transferable to urban areas.

This, sources said, was done after reports that health services are crippled in rural areas as the majority of employees serving there get themselves transferred to urban or semi-urban dispensaries.

There are around 800 doctors, 1,186 para-medical employees and 1,100 Class-4 employees with the department.

Sources told HT that the rural development department is also “ready” to shift its medico staff to the health department.

“The health department has made many claims. One of them is that many doctors working in the department have now become super specialists and their services cannot be utilised in the rural department dispensaries. However, a decision would be taken after both the departments meet and discuss the issue on the table,” said rural development and panchayati raj minister Tript Rajinder Bajwa.

He, however, categorically denied that there are any complaints against the doctor.

Rural medicos association opposes proposal

Rural Medical Services Association state president Dr Aslam Parvez has strongly objected to the proposal, terming it a conspiracy against them.

“We won’t allow this merger till the health department provides us seniority by adding our experience in the rural development department. The health department wants us to join as new recruits, which will adversely affect our promotion prospects,” said Parvez.

He also claimed that their recruitment was the brainchild of Captain Amarinder Singh, who in 2006 decided to recruit doctors especially for rural areas to strengthen health services in villages.

“Such proposal for merger also came for discussion under the SAD-BJP rule but we opposed it tooth and nail. Unfortunately, we are again being targeted without any reason,” said Parvez.

The health minister, however, declined to give the benefit of seniority to rural doctors and the other staff.

“We are ready to induct them in PCMS services, which itself will be a big benefit for rural doctors. Teachers recruited under rural department were also shifted to the education department without giving them seniority. Only a handful of rural medicos are objecting to this proposal,” said Mohindra.

First Published: Oct 27, 2017 09:37 IST