The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Retirement better than rural care for doctors

Kalyani (Nadia), Oct. 7: Government doctors are opting for the voluntary retirement scheme fearing transfer to remote villages.

Among them, six were doctors from the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Hospital and one each from the state general hospitals at Shaktinagar and Santipur. Most of the doctors were between 40 and 50-years-old.

The doctors from the Kalyani hospital opted for the scheme after coming to know that their names figured on the transfer list. Three departments — eye, skin and orthopaedics — are without doctors for the past eight days after the mini-exodus.

The government decided a year ago that doctors working for more than 10 years must be transferred. But the doctors pre-empted the government’s move to provide better healthcare in the villages.

“It is true that as many as 20 doctors in different districts have opted for the VRS. We are yet to find out the reasons behind their quitting but it seems that they did so after their names figured on the transfer lists,” said health services director Prabhakar Chatterjee.

Superintendent of the Kalyani hospital Nirupam Biswas said the doctors had opted for the scheme through him at least a year ago. “They got the nod from the department in past few months.”

But in the absence of the just-retired doctors, nearly 400 people in the out-patients’ departments were refused treatment today.

“These doctors asked me a year ago to push their names as candidates for the voluntary retirement scheme. But I requested some of them to reconsider their decision. They refused. We were unable to run the out-patients’ departments today as we were short-staffed,” said Biswas.

“I applied for the VRS in September, 2002, and got the nod from this February. It is purely my personal decision, which I don’t want to discuss,” said Samaresh Dutta, a former doctor attached to the department of medicine in Kalyani. The other doctors chose not to speak even that much.

Biswas said though two doctors — a house-staff in the surgery department and a radiologist — were appointed, they are yet to join the hospital. But a Jwaharlal Nehru Memorial is not the only hospital in Nadia that has been at the receiving end.

Chief medical officer Prabas Chowdhury said: “We were not eager to accept the VRS applications of these doctors. But one of them went to court and the court asked me to clarify on what ground they were being prevented from opting for the retirement scheme. We then did not let the legal tangle get more complicated and passed their papers to Writers’ Buildings.”

He was hopeful that the situation would soon normalise as the district health authorities were pressing the government for more doctors.

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