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No specialists in specialty unit

The brand new super specialty block of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) is teaching the state government an old lesson — developing infrastructure without manpower is futility.

Inaugurated on January 31 by Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh, the Rs 120-crore specialised wing of the hospital in Ranchi has patients today, but no doctors. Reason: poor pay offers have failed to interest specialists.

The key objective behind raising the new RIMS block was to offer ultra-modern treatment options to patients in four disciplines — cardiology, cardio-thoracic, urology and pediatrics. So far, only the cardiology unit has begun functioning.

The medical institute has been trying to field a dozen good doctors for its super specialty wing since 2012 when construction work had just started. “Advertisements were floated thrice — twice in 2012 and once last year — but to no avail. Very few applications were received,” said an insider.

RIMS had sought professors, associate professors, assistant professors and senior residents for urology, cardiology and cardio-thoracic units. Six “genuinely good” applications had been received. Only four doctors — a urologist, two cardiologists and a cardio-thoracic surgeon — joined. The last resigned soon, leaving vacancies for nine specialists.

While the reason behind the surgeon’s resignation was low pay scale (see box), the reason behind at least one doctor not accepting a RIMS offer was also the same.

An associate professor in the department of surgery conceded that the reason behind specialists not joining RIMS was its dismal offers. “Had the pay scale been better, there would have been no crisis of doctors,” he said.

An assistant professor with the department of pediatrics agreed. “Here, we don’t get non-practice allowance (NPA), while the basic salary is low too. Who would like to come here?”

RIMS director Dr Tulsi Mahto did not deny the gripe. “The doctors are saying the truth. Low pay is failing to generate interest among doctors about our super specialty wing.”

Mahto added: “In fact, a doctor who was shortlisted went to the extent of saying that he was eager to join, provided his salary was at least put on a par with Central Institute of Psychiatry (CIP) specialists.”

At CIP, Ranchi, an assistant professor is entitled to a salary of Rs 65,000 a month, while at AIIMS, Patna, doctors also get a hefty non-practice allowance, calculated at the rate of 25 per cent of the aggregate pay band.

President of IMA’s Jharkhand chapter Dr R.N. Das said they were fighting for the rights of government doctors for 11 years. “If the dynamic assured career progression (DACP) is implemented for all doctors (at present available to only general physicians), then the crunch can end. The NPA is an added incentive,” he said.

Health minister Rajendra Singh said his department would soon make DACP universal.