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Doctors bat for IAS model

A conglomeration of doctors has proposed the Centre to create Indian Medical Service on the lines of Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service and sought more budgetary provision for healthcare to prevent its privatisation.

The health services association of 15 states, including Bihar, took part in a two-day conference at Panchkula in Haryana on July 19 and 20, where the resolution was passed.

An all-India federation of government doctors’ association was also formed in the meeting. Two medicos from Bihar, Dr Ajay Kumar of Bihar Health Services Association (BHSA) and Dr Abhishekh Kumar Sinha of Contract Doctors’ Association, were made its members.

Dr Ajay Kumar told The Telegraph: “The conference dwelt on how to strengthen the government health delivery system. A resolution was passed to this effect urging the Centre to make government jobs more lucrative in terms of pay and facilities to doctors, especially in rural areas, along with development of infrastructure. The resolution speaks of establishing more government medical colleges in the states to bridge the gap between the doctor and patient ratio. According to government statistics, there’s only one doctor for every 1,700 Indians as against the desired ratio of 1:1,000.”

The conference also discussed at length the creation of Indian Medical Service (IMS) on the lines of Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service, to minimise bureaucratic interference in delivery of healthcare services.

Dr Ajay Kumar added: “Nearly all the states were of the view that there should be IMS, the proposal for which has been pending for almost three decades. We are in favour of IMS for many reasons. With its creation, the administrative part can be completely taken care of by the doctors themselves, reducing the bureaucratic control over it. Again, for starters, a central cadre of doctors with perquisites and pay similar to IAS officers could improve service conditions and address the exodus of doctors and shortage of manpower in public healthcare. Better implementation of the National Rural Health Mission programme is another argument in favour of the idea.”

Sources confirmed that the Union health ministry was looking at a proposal forwarded by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) for the creation of IMS.

The document proposes that the government should admit doctors to an all-India service through a selection process similar to the one that exists for the IAS and IPS cadres and provide them similar working conditions, perquisites and periodic training.

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan is said to be inclined to the idea, the source said. Since public healthcare was one of the focus areas for the Modi government, IMS could become a reality sooner than expected, the source added.

He added that periodic training for IMS doctors like the one received by IAS officers would also help maintain standards in public healthcare.

Health associations of states, including Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, Bengal, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Gujarat, attended the conference. The next meeting is scheduled to be held at Vadodara in Gujarat on November 15-16.