Punjab Health Minister Brahm Mohindra recently took a U-turn on the plan to rope in private players to run rural health centres by saying that it will be a pilot project in one or two centres with no increase in charges. However, doctors feel that the government started planning long ago.
They said doctors were reluctant to join government hospitals due to the decision in 2015 to pay only basic salary to medical officers for the first two years. The Congress government had plans to recruit 350 doctors but due to lack of response, full pay scale was decided in March 2018. Following the decision, 306 medical officers were recruited. “
“This was the only recruitment done by the present government in two years while the gap is huge. Most of the doctors were never offered rural postings, though a number of them were kee”,” said Dr Vishavdeep Singh Rana, president of Young PCMS Doctors Association of Punjab.
Public private partnership (PPP) model to run rural healthcare was in the works due to which rural postings were hardly offered in the previous recruitment drive, doctors feel.
In 2015, the then SAD-BJP government decided to recruit medical officers (MOs) at basic salary of Rs 15,600 on which they would have to work for the first two years. However, the idea did not work well.
Later, then Health Minister Surjit Jayani assured full pay scale and ra ecruitment drive happened but doctors went on strike in November 2015. Around 40% of MOs left the job over poor payment.
In February 2016, vacancies of 300 MOs were announced, but this time probation period with basic salary went up to three years. Dr Rana said” “Around 200 MOs joined in March 2016 and another 150 in October 2016, but the trend of leaving jobs also continued and hence shortage of doctors is continuing. Though the new government announced full pay scale to MOs, they failed in paying pending arrears to the old MOs who continued jobs on basic salary only.”
Dr Avinash Jindal, president of Specialists Doctors Association of Ludhiana, said” “Even specialists are taking VRS as they are feeling overburdened. Doctors are preferring to work in the private secto”.”
In Jalalabad, there is only one in charge for a 30-bed hospital and no other doctor while in Maur in Bathinda, only OPD runs in a 30-bed hospital. “
“Over the years, fee in private medical colleges increased a lot and hence doctors are not keen on government sector with poor pay when they can get three times more in private sector,” a doctor told The Indian Express on condition of anonymity. Government hospitals across the state are short by over 1,000 MOs and specialists.