Doctors shortage in rural J&K



By Naseer Ganai

More and more doctors posted in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir are leaving their rural posting and opting for deputations in government medical colleges, based in Srinagar and other cities in Jammu.

The health secretary of the state on Saturday expressed his concern that the situation in rural health centres and district hospitals has reached a “bleeding point”.

While briefing CM Mehbooba Mufti on the shortage of doctors in the rural areas, the health secretary said against a maximum upper limit of 293 doctors, 879 are on deputation. These doctors are working on a deputation in Medical Education Department, including two government medical colleges and other departments.

The CM at a meeting of secretaries issued directions to plug holes so that deputation quota doesn’t exceed 10 per cent, which is fixed under the norms.

Officials said in the health department, 10 per cent deputation is allowed to serve as registers, PGs and assistant surgeons in Medical Colleges based in Srinagar and Jammu.

However, officials say 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.

Against sanctioned strength of 1,521 doctors for the health department, 626 are on deputation.

In the Government Medical College Srinagar, 158 doctors of rural areas are on deputation for years together while 160 doctors of the health department are under training.

Incidentally, those who have gone for deputation for higher education, have not returned to the health department even after completing their Post Graduate courses.

“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.

In 2014 alone, around 100 doctors from the health department were selected as PGs and registers in the government medical colleges based in Srinagar and Jammu cities and not a single doctor, who had gone for deputation, returned to the rural posting.

“The problem is if 100 doctors have gone from health department to medical education in 2014, at least 50 should return to health department, who had gone for deputation some three years ago. But, none among them returns,” said a senior health department official.

He said according to the rule, a person can go for a deputation for two years.

“We have instances where people are on deputation for the past 25 years,” the official said.

“There are at least 100 assistant surgeons, who belong to the health department and should have been in rural areas, are in Government Medical College Srinagar doing almost nothing and making the whole system suffer,” the official said.

Dr. Baljeet Pathania, Director Health, Jammu, told Mail Today that 360 doctors have been on deputation.

“This is a problem for me. We cannot stop them from academic upgradation, but it is now going beyond the limit and creating a strain on rural health services. The government is taking a comprehensive decision about it,” he said.
Courtesy: Mail Online India


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