The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked a fisherman, who filed a PIL seeking directions to the state to appoint doctors and health workers to vacant posts in Ratnagiri civil hospital, to give his suggestions for the same. This, after the state government submitted that its efforts to fill up the posts had received less or no response and even those who were appointed had resigned or failed to join duty and therefore posts remained vacant.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kuilkarni was hearing a PIL seeking directions to the state government to take immediate steps to appoint adequate medical and para-medical staff to cope with Covid-19 situation in Ratnagiri district and other government hospitals in Maharashtra ahead of the festive season. The PIL was filed by fisherman Khalil Ahmad Hasanmiya Wasta, through advocate Rakesh Bhatkar.
The fisherman told the Court that despite rising Covid-19 infection in Ratnagiri, very little was being done by the government to fill up nearly 32 posts of medical officers and 87 posts for para-medical staff. This was proving to be insufficient and pandemic could become a scourge for the district, he submitted.
The Court inquired with the petitioner, “What can be done if doctors do not want to take up postings in rural areas and only want urban postings? You tell us what can be done to resolve the issue,” Justice Kulkarni said.
To which, Bhatkar suggested that if the MBBS doctors were not willing to take up the jobs, the government could allow BAMS and BUMS degree holders to apply as the Central government in its guidelines had recommended training them for controlling Covid-19.
He said that while the advertisement for medical officers in Mumbai had allowed BAMS and BUMS degree holders to apply for vacant posts, the same had restricted it to MBBS doctors in Ratnagiri district. Advertisements similar to Mumbai are required to be published for other districts including Ratnagiri to solve the problem, petitioner said.
After hearing submissions, the bench directed him to provide his suggestions to the state government within one week and asked the government to consider the same.
The Maharashtra government, through an affidavit on August 25 had told the HC that its health department is continuously trying to fill up medical and para-medical posts at Ratnagiri Civil Hospital, however, vacancies remain as qualified persons are unwilling to take up new assignments due to the fear of Covid-19. It said some of the appointed doctors, including those with MBBS degrees and specialists, had resigned due to local and personal problems.
“Apart from this, the majority of existing staff are working under fear of local and political pressure,” it added. The state had assured that it would immediately fill up all vacant posts in Ratnagiri.
In light of this, Bhatkar said that despite unfavourable response, the government did not explore other ways to fill up the posts.
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