| Doctors of Patna Medical College and Hospital in casuals on the premises of the health hub. Pictures by Ashok Sinha |
The state government’s directive for doctors and employees of medical colleges to wear uniform on duty seems to have had no effect, with the order remaining on paper only.
In 2012, the health department directed doctors and grades III and IV employees of medical colleges and hospitals of the state to follow the dress code while on hospital premises. The intention was to make it convenient for patients and attendants to identify doctors and employees of the hospital.
According to sources, over 50 per cent of doctors and grades III and IV employees at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) and Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) do not follow the dress code.
A PMCH doctor said: “Arre chalta hai (it happens).” He said the state government should assure doctors’ protection instead of ordering them what to wear. Many doctors avoid wearing dress on the hospital premises to avoid being identified by patients’ attendants in case of trouble.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), however, had a different take on this. IMA state chapter president Dr Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, who is also attached to PMCH, said: “Doctors should wear the dress provided to them. Likewise, the government should also address their security concerns.”
The attitude of the Grade III and IV employees of the hospital is no better. A Grade IV employee of PMCH, said: “Kaun hamein dress pehnayega (who will make us follow the dress code).”
Sources said the Grade III and IV employees are reluctant to wear the dress on two counts — first, they do not want to get recognised and second, several employees do not work for full duty period. Not following the dress code saves them from being identified as absent from duty.
Responding to a query on non-adherence to the dress code advisory in medical colleges and hospitals, health department secretary Sanjay Kumar Singh said: “We had issued the advisory hoping that doctors and employees would follow it. It is sad that they have chosen to behave differently.”
Sanjay said the department could not do much apart from requesting for the same, as there was no provision of imposing any penalty on those not following the advisory.
Dr A.K. Thakur, the head of the NMCH paediatrics department, said: “Wearing dress prescribed during working hours is more or less based on individual behaviour. While 50 per cent of doctors wear the uniform, half of them do not do so on the pretext that their dress is dirty or not fitting properly. Doctors not following the dress code are more visible in departments of surgery and medicine.”
NMCH superintendent Dr Santosh refused to comment on the issue.
Supporting the health department’s initiative, Bihar State Health Association (BSHA) general secretary Dr Ajay Kumar said: “Wearing the dress on duty is ethically correct. It enhances the prestige of a doctor.” He added that at the same time, the government should provide allowance for maintenance of the uniform.