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Job pangs for ad hoc medics

The state government is locked in a tussle with contractual doctors over the nature of policy to adopt while filling up vacancies of regular doctors.

In 2010, medics across the state hailed the state government’s move of advertising vacancies for 1,510 regular doctors after a gap of 12 years. Two years on, uncertainty continues to loom over the appointments and the aspirants are up in arms against the government for its “faulty” recruitment policy.

The vacancies, sources said, were floated through Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) to regularise government doctors appointed on ad hoc basis. However, the “beneficiaries” have been protesting against the proposed appointment procedure.

Though the comprehensive policy for appointment of doctors framed by the government in 2008 says that general duty medical officers and specialists will be appointed through similar procedure, BPSC notified that there would be written tests and interviews for recruiting 1,510 general duty medical officers, while around 100 specialists were hired through interviews. “It is ridiculous. Against 1,510 vacancies, there were 1,995 applications of which only 1,375 were eligible according to the criteria. The very purpose of any competitive examination is to prepare a merit list by eliminating weaker aspirants. When the pool of qualifying candidates is so small, what’s the need of the test? How can the government deviate from its own policy?” asked Dr Amitav, president, Bihar State Contractual Doctor Association.

The government’s move has irritated applicants to such an extent that they plan to boycott the written test whenever it is held. “Many applicants have been working with the government for several years. They are supposed to get at least 40 per cent marks in each of the subjects to qualify for the posts. How can a doctor, busy 10-12 hours a day, be asked to sit for such a test? The medicos’ experience should only be considered,” he added.

The reasons for protests don’t end here.

One clause in the list of criteria demands that the applicants must have served at least 2 years in rural areas. Many contractual doctors, posted in district hospitals, jails and labour department, will be left out of the selection ambit. No wonder then, that even after a year has passed that the interested candidates applied for the posts, they are running from pillar to post to get their demands accepted.

This tug-of-war between the applicants and health department has hit the common man in need of healthcare at the hospitals the worst.

Senior functionaries in the government said decisions were taken at the top-level with several considerations. “There has to be a written test to prepare a merit list of appointments to enable us to post them suitably. BPSC is now taking care of the appointment process. We hope it will be over in a year from now,” said a health department official.