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Truant doctors shy off home

New Delhi, Nov. 26: Senior faculty members and doctors of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences are refusing to return to the institute from abroad even after the term of their assignments is over.

At present, at least 23 faculty members are on foreign assignments. Seven of them have not joined duty after completing their assignments and have requested for an extension of their stay abroad.

AIIMS authorities have initiated disciplinary action against five and the other two have been asked to report back immediately.

“Usually, senior faculty members are given leave for two years to pursue higher skills — academic and professional. What, however, is happening now is that instead of going to a university of repute, doctors are going to the Gulf to make money,” says a faculty member.

The list of truant faculty members recently submitted by the AIIMS to Parliament in response to a question raised by an MP includes professors and heads of departments who have been away for anything between one and four years. Each time the date of return approached, they sought an extension.

Dr Rajiv Jain, associate professor of radio diagnosis, went abroad on August 16, 1999. One year and six months down the line, he asked AIIMS authorities for an extension beyond February 15, 2001, when his term expired.

While a final decision was awaited, the authorities sent three letters between May and October asking Jain to report for work. There was no response. Disciplinary action has been initiated against the doctor.

Dr A.K. Padhy, professor and head of nuclear medicine, who has been abroad the last four years, sought extension for one more year.

The authorities refused and asked him to return immediately. The last reminder was sent on August 12. After receiving no response from Padhy, the authorities initiated eviction proceedings from his residential accommodation.

Dr Balram Bhargava, associate professor of cardiology, sought an extension after two years abroad. He was allowed to stay on for one more year. Not satisfied, he requested for one more year. When the authorities refused permission, the doctor asked them to reconsider their decision.

After completing one year and eight months of his assignment, Dr Raju Sharma, associate professor of radio diagnosis, requested an extension of three months. The authorities have asked him to immediately join duty and are still awaiting a response from him.

According to a section of AIIMS faculty members, the erring doctors symbolise the rot that has set in the institution. “The functioning of the institute leaves much to be desired. There is too much that is wrong here,” said a member.

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