‘Rural health centres understaffed, facing dearth of nearly 15,00 doctors’

 Srinagar— Tall claims of the state government to provide the best healthcare facilities to people seem to have fallen flat as several primary health centres (PHCs) and community health centres (CHCs) have failed to serve their purpose.

Sources in the health department told KNS that though there is a sanctioned strength nearly 1500 doctors for valley hospitals run by the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir (DHSK), but only 900 doctors are available for duty while rest are either absent or deputed on choice postings in Medical Colleges and other departments.

“There is a shortage of specialist doctors like an obstetrician, gynecologist, surgeons, physicians and paediatricians in the rural areas. There is a long list of doctors of the health department who are in government medical colleges, leaving the district hospitals and primary health centres in rural areas without doctors,” Sources maintained.

Sources said that those among the doctors, who have gone for deputation for higher education, have not returned to the health department even after completing their PGs. “After getting selected as assistant surgeon in the health department to serve in rural areas, doctors usually apply for PG courses and move to the medical colleges. It is their right. But when they pursue courses like MCh, DM, etc, they should either declare their post in rural areas vacant or they should give in writing they will serve in rural areas once they complete the degree. They don’t do anything, leaving rural areas without doctors for long and also blocking the post in the rural areas,” said an official wishing not to be named.

The official said that according to the rules a person can go for deputation for two years. “We have instances where people are on deputation for past 25 years. “Health Department has so far failed make the doctors accountable to work for the welfare of the people.“

It is to mention here that the then health minister had sought the list of overstaying doctors and deficiency of medicos in hospitals and other health care centres of the state. “Those doctors who have served in cities only will be sent to rural areas to strengthen the understaffed hospitals in rural areas. Every doctor has to serve now some time in rural area,” he had said.

The order was also issued in which it was mandatory for a doctor to serve in rural areas for strengthening of health centres in far-flung areas in the state,” sources said.

Sources however told KNS that ironically, the order was not implemented on the ground after most of the doctors opposed the move, were willing to serve only in district hospitals and various hospitals in Srinagar and Jammu.

After facing pressure from the media and the public, the officers of the Health and Medical Education Department have recently been directed that they should ensure that the places where two or more persons have been posted against one sanctioned post, “the one who have a longer stay should be transferred out only if he/she has completed a minimum tenure of two years there”.

“All such doctors-paramedics hospitals staff except for those appointed under RBA/ALC categories and serving in such areas who have completed more than five years of tenure in a health institution, shall be shifted and action shall be taken under rules,” a recent circular of the government said. (KNS)

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