After KR exposé, govt cracks whip on doctors

5-year rural posting mandatory or termination; new ‘fool-proof’ transfer policy to be drafted

Srinagar: Minister of State (Mos) for Health, Asiea Naqash, said on Wednesday that the chief minister had “strictly instructed” her to terminate services of doctors who refuse to join postings in rural areas.
“The chief minister has strictly instructed us to terminate all doctors who abandon their duties in hospitals of rural areas. We have been asked to serve two warning notices and terminate them immediately if they fail to report at the place of posting,” Naqash told Kashmir Reader.
She said that many doctors posted at Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in villages had not joined duties there.
“The absence of doctors is causing an acute shortage and is a serious healthcare concern for us,” she said.
“This is something we are serious about and the chief minister has also taken a serious note of this trend of absenteeism. Now we will deal with the callous doctors strictly,” she said.
Naqash informed that action against 235 absent doctors was in the pipeline.
“We are preparing a fresh list of doctors who are absent from their duties, so that right action is taken against them,” she said.
The minister said that the Health Department had worked with the Law Department to fight court cases against many doctors who abandoned their rural postings.
“We may invoke the Essential Services Maintenance Act for District Hospitals so that our case becomes strong against absent doctors,” Naqash said.
In the past two years, the government has already terminated the services of 150 doctors who had abandoned their postings in rural areas.
The J&K government has also decided to bring a “fool-proof” transfer policy in the Health Department so as to make at least 5 years of rural service mandatory for doctors.
Official sources told Kashmir Reader that Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has directed the Health Department to draft a fresh transfer policy for doctors to streamline human resource in hospitals of rural areas.
“The chief minister has issued strict directions to health officials to bring a fool-proof mechanism about the transfer of doctors. She has also asked to make five years of rural service mandatory for every doctor after completing MBBS,” the officials said.
The issue of transfers has been deliberated in a high-level meeting of health officials chaired by the CM. The meeting was called after growing complaints about shortage of doctors in rural areas
The meeting was attended by Minister for Health Bali Baghat, MoS Health Asiea Naqash, Chief Secretary BB Vyas, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education Department Pawan Kotwal, and senior officers of the Health Department and medical colleges.
On October 16, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti took strong note of reports in the media of non-availability of specialist doctors in far-flung and rural areas. She sought a status report within a week from the Health Department.
Asiea Naqash admitted that the Health Department has been facing serious issues regarding posting of doctors in rural areas, which has prompted the government to draft a fresh transfer policy.
“We held a detailed meeting with the chief minister and discussed various aspects of the problem. We are hopeful that a clear-cut transfer policy is drafted soon,” she said.