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Shortcut route to fill hospital posts

In a major deviation from its existing policy, the Left Front government has decided to engage the health department to directly recruit doctors for the teaching hospitals, bypassing the Public Service Commission (PSC). At least a hundred doctors are immediately needed in various medical colleges across the state.

A bill, empowering the health department to recruit doctors for medical colleges including SSKM Hospital, will be tabled in the ongoing budget session of the Assembly.

In the existing system, the PSC prepares a panel of names after conducting written tests and interviews and sends the list to the government. The health department deputes the empanelled doctors against vacancies in various medical colleges. In 1996, the Left Front government had made it mandatory for the teaching hospitals to recruit personnel through the PSC as well as the employment exchange.

“The PSC usually takes a lot of time to complete its recruitment procedure. As a result, many posts remain vacant despite an urgency. Besides, specialist doctors often cannot be recruited through the PSC. So, we wanted to take the responsibility on ourselves,” said special secretary to the health department Soumen Bandopadhyay.

According to health department officials, the Medical Council of India (MCI) has repeatedly criticised the state government for its failure to fill up the vacant teaching posts. The government apparently woke up after the medical body threatened to take action for the government’s failure to abide by the MCI norms in providing quality treatment and education.

“The PSC takes a long time in sending us the panel of names. We often have to wait for more than a year. As the health department has no power to recruit medical officers, we have no other option but to wait for the PSC’s recommendations,’’ said a senior health department official.

Health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra recently held a series of meetings with senior departmental officers and principals of medical colleges to improve the standard of education and healthcare services. All the medical college authorities urged the minister to provide more doctors to tackle the increasing rush of students. This is what spurred Mishra to consider recruitment through the health department.

The health department will constitute a selection board to recruit doctors for teaching hospitals, sources said. According to the special secretary, the health department is reverting to an earlier practice. “The department used to directly recruit doctors for teaching posts. The PSC was assigned the task only a few years ago,” he pointed out.

PSC chairperson Leena Chakraborty declined to comment on the government decision. “There are specific rules for recruitment of personnel and we just follow them. Besides, the time taken to select candidates depends on factors like the number of vacancies and candidates, and the process of recruitment,” Chakraborty explained.

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