Andhra Pradesh’s drive to recruit 1,170 specialist doctors on contract for the state’s COVID-19 hospitals is proving to be a non-starter, with just 100 recruitments so far.
The government on Thursday issued a second notification calling for applications, and empowered district collectors to recruit doctors and paramedical staff directly.
“The response to the first notification, issued on April 17, to recruit 1,170 specialist doctors was not very encouraging. I cannot reveal how many applications we received, but we have managed to recruit just 100. Fear is one factor, the other is most candidates want to work in cities or districts where they live, especially at Visakhapatnam or Vijayawada, while we want them at hotspots such as Kurnool and Guntur,” said Director of Medical Education Dr G V Ramaprasad.
“The government wants to augment COVID-19 hospitals with additional staff, especially doctors and general duty medical officers. We have issued a second notification today calling for MBBS passouts to apply,’’ said Dr Ramaprasad.
Official sources said that despite offering a fixed monthly pay of Rs 1,10,000, the state has failed to attract candidates. While this may be due to the fear of contracting coronavirus, it could also be because the job is on contract for one year with a bar on private practice.
The state government had issued the notification for recruitment of 1,170 specialists, 1,170 general duty medical officers, 2,000 nurses, 306 anesthesia technicians, 300 female nursing order, 300 male nursing order, and 300 sweepers – all on contract for one year. The response for the other posts too was negligible, officials said.
On Thursday, the government issued a second notification seeking applications for 360 posts of specialists in general medicine; 363 posts of specialists in pulmonary medicine; and 347 posts of specialists in anesthesiology, for the same pay and tenure specified in the earlier notification.
“We have empowered district collectors to find ways to recruit the required specialist doctors and general duty medical officers and other paramedical staff, instead of the Directorate of Medical Education,” Dr Ramaprasad said.
In Kurnool, there is an urgent requirement for more doctors, as the pandemic is spreading quickly with 386 positive cases. The district collector had issued a notification for walk-in interviews for super specialists and specialists, including super specialist cardiologists, super specialist gastroenterologists and super specialist nephrologists to whom a fixed salary of Rs 1.40 lakh per month is being offered. However, the response has been lukewarm.
A doctor on condition of anonymity said that although medical professionals, especially specialists, want to join the government’s efforts against coronavirus, the criteria is discouraging. “No one is ready to leave their existing job for a year and join as temporary government doctors. If the number of months is reduced to say 4 or 6, maybe more doctors would be interested. Also, the fact that it is a temporary job for a period of one year puts off many, who may be looking for a permanent position,” he said.
“The number of Covid-19 positive cases is expected to increase in Andhra Pradesh as we are testing rigorously. We urgently need more doctors and paramedical staff on the front line, at the five state-level Covid-19 hospitals and the 13 district-level hospitals. We hope to recruit the required doctors and staff soon,” health minister A Krishna Srinivas said.
Health Department officials said if MDs do not apply, the requirement can be relaxed to MBBS graduates to at least recruit General Duty Medical Officers. The salary for MBBS graduates is Rs 58,900.
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