The Telegraph
Saturday , September 8 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Helpline to trap truant docs

The health department has hit upon a unique idea to rein in truant doctors.

The department has recently opened helpline numbers 0612-2215504, 0612-2215505 and 9835409749, requesting people to complain against doctors found absent in hospitals in duty hours. Public notices were published in the newspapers on Thursday.

Complaints about doctors marking attendance in the outpatient department of hospitals and leaving prompted the step, health officials said.

The department has regularly been monitoring the presence of doctors in government hospitals and salaries of hundreds of doctors, reporting late to work or remaining absent without prior notice, have been deducted in the past few months.

Principal secretary (health) Vyasji said: “We started a control room after receiving information that most of the doctors mark attendance twice as directed but remain absent from work during duty hours. Our aim is to provide best possible healthcare services to people and it would not be possible if doctors are not available for patients. If we get specific complaints, we would get the matter probed and punish the errant doctors.”

Officials said that doctors’ absence from hospitals not only inconvenienced people but also tarnished the “people-centric” government’s image. “Our intention is to take strict action against the black sheep so that those medical professionals who are dutiful can keep their morale high and people get quality services at public health facilities,” said a senior official.

The doctors’ fraternity has termed the move as “tyrannical and humiliating”. Members of Bihar Health Services Association (BHSA), the body of government doctors in the state, Bihar chapter of Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Bihar State Medical Teachers’ Association held an emergency meeting in the capital on Friday to discuss the issue and to decide on the course of action.

The meet participants unanimously said the department’s notice would trigger more attacks on doctors and hospitals by encouraging criminals to target defenceless medical professionals.

“Doctors in the state work in extremely hostile conditions. There is acute shortage of manpower, infrastructure is grossly inadequate in hospitals and resources are limited. Incidents of attacks on doctors are increasing at an alarming rate. Despite all these, the health sector has made remarkable improvement in the state in the past few years. Sadly, instead of acknowledging our contribution, some bureaucrats are hell bent on making life difficult for us,” said Dr Ajay Kumar, general secretary, BHSA.

State IMA president Dr Arun Kumar Thakur said there was no doubt that the state’s political leadership was keen to revive the health sector for the better, but ways of some officials seemed otherwise.

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