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Specialist posts repel doctors

Patna, June 28: Specialist doctors are either underutilised or underpaid in the state that badly needs their expert services in the government medical college and hospitals.

The administration has been charged with wasting the skill and services of specialist doctors with its faulty policies — posting them as food analysts in the state food laboratory and at odd places like medical depots. Their services, on the contrary, are required at medical colleges and government hospitals in different blocks of the state.

Of around 1,400 posts of specialists in medical colleges of the state, 50 per cent are vacant.

Bihar Health Services Association (BHSA) general secretary Ajay Kumar said: “As specialist doctors do not get any special allowance for their service, majority of them is not interested in the job. Around 1,500 doctors, holding postgraduate degrees, work in the general cadre, which wastes skilled human resource.”

The BHSA general secretary said: “Till 2008, when the specialist sub-cadre was created in the state, they would receive same salary as general doctors, a basic pay of Rs 20,280 monthly, as a result of which their presence in rural areas was almost negligible. Thereafter, a committee was formed to fix the salary of specialist doctors in the state. The committee, in its report submitted in February-March this year, recommended Rs 28,000 basic pay monthly for them but that is yet to be implemented.”

Holding the state government responsible for the lack of specialist doctors in the state, Ajay Kumar said four specialists, one each from surgery, gynaecology, anaesthesia and paediatrics, were to be appointed in all 533 blocks of the state, adding up to 2,132. However, the state could get only 375 specialists. It published advertisement in March this year, inviting applications for recruitment of 1,993 specialist doctors to be posted as child specialists and general surgeons. However, sources said the state received applications for only half of the posts advertised.

Lack of incentive is a major factor behind specialists not willing to work as specialists. A few years ago, the state government sacked 18 specialist doctors at one go and cancelled their contracts for not joining duty in different prisons of the state. Most of them either had not joined duty or those who did, subsequently absented themselves from duty.

Under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), seven specialist doctors have been envisaged at one community health centre (CHC), the first referral unit from primary health centres and sub-centres.

Accordingly, the state needs at least 8,000 specialists to cope with the requirements at CHCs and district hospitals.

The District Health Action Plan report, 2012-13, has stated non-availability of specialists at the block level in the state.