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Gurung perks to woo docs to hills

- Rise in pay, house and schooling promised

Darjeeling, Feb. 11: Bimal Gurung today announced that the GTA would provide a salary of Rs 65,000 a month to contractual doctors across the hills along with accommodation and schooling for their children in an attempt to woo them.

Gurung said an earlier attempt by the GTA to woo contractual doctors to the hills had failed to evoke any response.

The GTA chief executive, while inaugurating a 10-bed Critical Care Unit and a 10-bed High Dependency Unit at the Darjeeling district hospital today, said: “There is shortage of doctors in the hospital and other hospitals across the hills. The GTA had earlier issued an advertisement (at the end of last year) inviting doctors to work in the hills for a salary of Rs 45,000 a month but no one turned up. We will now give the doctors a salary of Rs 65,000 per month, take care of their housing, including electricity bills, water connection and schooling for their children. I am hopeful that this offer will evoke some response.”

A contractual doctor gets Rs 45,000 a month from the state. After the GTA was formed, the health department was transferred to the hill body and now the GTA can recruit doctors on yearly contracts. Any doctor recruited by the hill body would have a fresh contract and be entitled to the perks announced by Gurung today. Permanent doctors can only be appointed by the state government.

Subir Bhowmick, the chief medical officer of health, Darjeeling, said: “There are 45 (regular) doctors posted in the Darjeeling district hospital but there is still a shortage of 33 doctors. Across the GTA area, the shortage of doctors is around 50-60.”

Gurung said the GTA would continue to correspond with the state government to fill up the vacancies by appointing permanent doctors. Till that happens, the GTA would try to recruit doctors on contract. Officials in the hills, however, could not say how many contractual doctors are in the hills or what was likely to happen if the state was able to fill up the posts.

“We will not compromise with health and education. We will try and solve the smallest problem in these sectors as early as possible. The public must support us,” Gurung said.

The GTA chief also announced that the NHPC Ltd had promised to provide Rs 2 crore to set up an MRI machine at a hospital in Darjeeling. “I appeal to the hospital authorities to identify land and we will immediately provide the funds to set up an MRI unit.”

Bhowmick said the health department was planning to set up the MRI unit at Victoria Hospital, which is currently defunct. “We are also planning to set up a sick new born baby care unit at Victoria Hospital and shift the maternity section there from the district hospital. To run the MRI machine each time, we would need 600KV of electricity,” he said.

Bhowmick added that the CCU was similar to the ICU and the ITU.

“The CCUs and the ICUs or the Intensive Therapy Unit for Critical patients are synonymous. The units have life support and monitoring systems, ventilators and other facilities. The new units (10-bed Critical Care Unit and a 10-bed High Dependency Unit at the Darjeeling district hospital) have been set up for around Rs 1 crore,” he said.