POOR PERIPHERAL HEALTHCARE: Blocking post and pursuing degree: Govt mulls measures to check practice


Due to acute shortage of doctors in rural areas, the state government is contemplating rules to ensure the medical officers selected recently by Public Service Commission (PSC) join and work at their places of posting.
Last week a meeting regarding the shortage of doctors in peripheral hospitals was convened by health and medical education department (H&ME). The meeting decided to devise a “mechanism making it mandatory for a doctor selected for the post to join service within three weeks from the date of posting orders,” a source in the department said.
The rules are being framed in view of the non-availability of doctors in peripheral areas. “It will ensure that a person selected for a job is not allowed to keep the post blocked while he or she pursues post graduation or residency,” the source said.
“Those who do not join may lose the job,” the source added.
Currently, 200 medical officers, already on rolls of the directorate of health services Kashmir, are pursuing MD/MS/DM or other courses in various medical colleges of the state or outside, official documents reveal.
The decision to formulate policy for ensuring presence of newly selected doctors in peripheries has been taken in view of the fact that many doctors selected by the PSC are currently, or may in future, pursue higher education or residency, as has happened in the past.
“This is a pre-emptive measure that government is taking,” an official said.
The official said that in the recently convened meeting, the senior health officials informed the government that although pursuit of education was a right of every individual, “access to healthcare was however a constitutional right.”
“Government is weighing one against the other, and without doubt, depriving the rural hospitals of the doctors was a violation of right to life of people in such areas,” the official said.
“Government has agreed in principle to prioritize access to healthcare.”
The list of 371 medical officers was issued recently by PSC. These doctors are meant to address the manpower shortage in rural hospitals and improve healthcare delivery in the peripheries.
The official said a trend has developed that a doctor who is already pursuing specialization keeps the post blocked which is “proving detrimental to the career prospects of hundreds of other doctors. 
“A doctor takes three years to complete MD/MS, and then goes for residency for some more years. During this period, his or her services are not available, while as a doctor who wants to serve in the rural area and is in the waiting list gets no chance to get selected,” said the official.
He added that the scenario was also leading to brain drain as the doctor who had specialization may or may not join the post of medical officer after completion of degree, and that doctor, who did not get the opportunity may leave the state in search of a job. 
“It is a precarious situation that the government must address,” he said.

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