Burdwan, July 17: Doctors skipping work at health centres will now have their salaries deducted.
Concerned over piling reports of absent doctors, the government has decided that the best way to penalise them is with a salary slash. Health centre doctors are supposed to man them 24 hours.
At a meeting two weeks ago, the health department brass asked the district chief medical officers of heath to organise surprise visits to the centres and serve showcause notices on the errant medicos.
'If the reply to the showcause is unsatisfactory, we will deduct the doctor's pay for the period he was found absent. I have asked all the chief medical officers to submit a report on the surprise visits by the end of this month. We will then issue the necessary instructions,' director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee told The Telegraph today.
In the state's 923 primary health centres, one doctor is supposed to be available at any time of night and day. In each of the 251 block primary health centres, three doctors are deployed. There should be four in the 95 rural hospitals.
In the last two categories, two to three doctors should be be available round the clock. Over 2,000 doctors are involved in the health centre network.
One of the major charges against truant doctors is that they neglect health centres for private practice.
Over the past two weeks, the surprise checks have begun in Burdwan and Birbhum.
Health officials in Birbhum said that during a visit to the Dwarka public health centre at Labhpur, 250 km from Calcutta, the doctor in charge was not found at his post.
Patients told the visiting team that the doctor did not stay in his official quarters at the health centre. He only attended the outpatient department for two hours thrice a week.
The doctor at the Rudranagar primary health centre in Muraroi Block-2, about 270 km from Calcutta, was also absent. Here, too, the patients alleged that he worked for only about two hours every day.
'In Birbhum, out of 58 health centres, doctors are available round the clock in only three ' at Kirnahar, Tantipara and Joydeb. In these health centres, the doctors stay in their quarters,' district chief medical officer Shyamapada Basak said.
Many of the doctors complained to Basak that their quarters were unfit for living.
In Burdwan, doctors were absent in 52 out of 64 primary health centres.
The health services director admitted that some of the quarters meant for doctors and nurses had leaking roofs and lacked other amenities.
'The public works department was not being able to maintain the quarters properly, so we recently handed over the responsibility to the panchayats. But the doctors cannot get away with this excuse in all cases. We have found that even where the quarters are in sound condition, some of them stay away,' Chatterjee said.