Recently, the Health and Medical Department administration terminated the services of thirty two doctors under Rule clause (b) of Rule 21 (1) of J&K, Civil Services (Classification, Control & Appeal) Rules, 1956 and under the provisions of Article 128 of CSR Vol-I. The reason was their prolonged absence from duty.
The decision was drastic but had its own basis considering the large number of doctors who were fired. The government even received praises for the act but there was an important aspect that did not come to light.
Has the Government also taken steps to provide alternative arrangement when these doctors are removed? More importantly, did the government try and understand why almost 40 percent of doctors in Jammu and Kashmir leave the state?
The Government spends approximately 25 to 30 lakh rupees of taxpayers money on the training of a single doctor which by all means is a huge investment. During the Master’s program, the doctors in Jammu are paid a stipend of about Rs22,000 – Rs 25,000. Their counterparts in SKIMS, Srinagar are paid about Rs. 45,000. That again is a great payment for a stipend. The expectation is that if these doctors fail to live up to the trust of the society whose taxes are spent in these Doctors’ education they have no right to be allowed to continue their services in the Health Department.
This may sound correct and even populist at first instance but actually masks the faults of the government.
1. You may have noticed the vast difference in the stipends for one paid to doctors pursuing Master’s in Jammu and in Srinagar. It should seem unfair but then SKIMS has the excuse of being a research institute as well. That is actually a very basic problem once considered because anyone would adjust with discrimination.
2. A doctor who is a gazetted officer and sits at par the grade of a Deputy Commissioner (DC) does not see the same comforts as a DC does. Leave alone the comforts, Doctors, for instance at GMC Jammu regularly do shifts of 24 to 36 hours.
You do not have to ask a Doctor this, but visit their chambers yourself to see. After a gruesome shift like that, once a doctor retires to his chambers, he has to go and sit on broken furniture with walls that have fungus growing on them.
And the toilets, you would have seen the pathetic condition of the toilets yourself. Most of us avoid relieving ourselves in these toilets, leave alone the doctors. So much for the comfort after a 36-hour shift. But even this is not important.
3. GMC Jammu, again for instance lacks even the basic facilities. Trolleys to carry a patient are almost always short in number. Oxygen tanks are found not filled on many occasions. Reagents for tests in the hospital labs get over right on the day they are needed. The reports of the tests within the Hospital labs and private labs differ markedly and the decision on medication of a patient often lead to casualty.
The doctors are blamed for the death of these patients then and even beaten up every week. They are even stamped incompetent and if you are to ask anyone in Jammu and Kashmir, people like to take their family members outside the state because they do not trust the doctors here.
It would be surprising then to realise a simple fact. These same incompetent doctors, once they move to greener pastures, are never fired from the hospitals that hire them. The salaries are four times the salary they get in Jammu and Kashmir and the work environment is great to say the least. More importantly, the exposure to work on various cases adds to the profile of these doctors professionally. They can always come and serve their people but where are the facilities in Jammu and Kashmir?
The same incompetent doctors shine outside the state. What does that speak of authorities in Jammu and Kashmir health department? But this is not the end of it, there’s one more point.
4. When it comes to debating the moral responsibility of these doctors, has it ever been considered that truckloads of money is spent on students in IITs and IIMs? They are never expected to work for the government and go and work on fancy packages in private conglomerates.
Notwithstanding the above statement, no one really wants to leave their home. If, atleast, the facilities for doctors can be improved, the reagents in labs stocked enough and competent people perform the lab tests, fewer patients would die and even fewer doctors would be beaten up.
It does sound oversimplified, but will the authorities even manage to accomplish this much?
A total 580 posts of doctors of various categories are lying vacant in various hospitals of Jammu region while a new Doctors Service Policy is coming up shortly to ensure availability of medicos in hilly and remote areas of the State.
While replying to the question of BJP member Ashok Khajuria, PDP member Saifuddin Bhat and subsequent supplementaries of other members in the Upper House today, the Health Minister said that about 580 posts of senior consultants, consultants, medical officers, dental Surgeons etc are lying vacant in various hospitals of Jammu region under Directorate of Health Services Jammu. They included 347 posts of Medical officers, 29 posts of dental surgeons ten posts of senior consultants and 194 posts of consultants. He said out of the sanctioned strength of 2182, only 1603 doctors are in place.
The Minister said that most of the doctors prefer to go outside for more money and do not want to serve here. Most of the doctors also prefer to serve at Srinagar or Jammu or at major towns and do not want to go to remote and backward areas despite the fact that they take seats on reserved category. The Government is shortly coming out with Doctors Service Policy and this will come out shortly, most probably during this Budget Session. Every doctor will be made to serve in hard areas, he maintained.
He said the efforts will also be made to fill up vacant posts of para-medical staff on contractual basis through NHM.
The Minister also informed that a high-end Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan machine worth Rs 23 crore has been made operational in SKIMS, Soura on January 7 this year for the convenience of cancer patients, adding that PET-Scan is a machine that is used to detect cancerous tissues and cells in body.