October 2017 News

Doctors Refusing To Serve In Rural Areas, Staying Put In Srinagar

15 October 2017
Kashmir Reader

Srinagar: The government has failed to take action against hundreds of doctors who refused to serve in rural areas and continue to hold choice postings in Srinagar, including those who have not been transferred for nearly 30 years. Official documents accessed by Kashmir Reader have revealed some shocking facts about the flawed transfer policy in the Health Department. The data says that some government doctors deputed to Government Medical College, Srinagar, and other departments have not been transferred in the past 10 to 30 years. Sources said that many doctors have refused to serve in rural area, using their political and bureaucratic influence, for past many years. This has resulted in Srinagar hospitals being overstaffed while district hospitals and sub-district hospitals being understaffed. 'The healthcare delivery system has been badly hit in far-flung areas as doctors refused to serve in rural areas using their political and bureaucratic influence,' sources said. In Kashmir, nearly 100 doctors who refused to serve in far-flung areas are overstaying in Government Medical College, Srinagar, police department, and other institutions in Srinagar. A senior administrator in the GMC said that people are facing hardships in villages in having access to basic healthcare as doctors refuse to serve in far-flung areas. 'Many medicos who have links with politicians, legislators or bureaucrats have become untouched doctors, as transfer norms have been set aside for them,' said the GMC official. Most of these 'untouched doctors' have been given plum administrative posts in GMC Srinagar, Police Department, Central Jail, Labour Department, NIIT, NHM and Civil Secretariat. 'Some of them are specialist doctors who have done their PG and DM courses in Gynaecology, Pediatrics, Cardiology and Dentistry, but their disinterest to serve in rural areas have led to a huge inconvenience to people as the District Hospitals face shortage of these specialists,' a faculty member working in SMHS Hospital told Kashmir Reader. He said some doctors posted at distant places manage to get selection for short duration courses at Srinagar, but never join back. The rules say that deputation period should not exceed 3 years and all doctors must be given rural posting at PHCs, CHCs compulsorily for at least 3 to 5 years before being posted at district level hospitals or those in towns and cities. However, these doctors keep their posting intact in medical colleges and other departments using every kind of influence. An official in the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) told Kashmir Reader that the Health Department is not following the general transfer policy which makes shifting of an official mandatory after serving for two years at a particular position. 'Nepotism flourishes due to overstaying of doctors. This becomes a huge problem because when authorities try to transfer some influential doctors, they get it halted froma minister, legislator or some bureaucrats,' the official said. He said that there are scores of places in Kashmir where there are no doctors posted in PHCs or hospitals and those who could be sent there are working in city hospitals and are not transferred. A DHSK official opined that J&K government should take inspiration from Maharashtra government's order to cancel registration of doctors who refused to serve in rural areas. The Maharashtra government has recently cancelled the registration of over 4,500 doctors for failing to serve in rural areas for a year, which is mandatory. 'It is the best way to enforce the mandatory rules in Health Department,' the official said. Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman, said the department had worked to end the shortage of doctors in rural areas. However, he didn't divulge any details about the overstaying doctors. 'We have already referred the vacant posts to PSCs to end the shortage of medicos in rural areas,' he said. Dr Saleem said that they have not consolidated any list of doctors deputed in others departments. 'I am not aware of the number of doctors deputed in different departments. I will see and get back to you,' he said.