Doctors still elude rural hospitals as fast-track recruitment fails

Doctors still elude rural hospitals as fast-track recruitment fails
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Srinagar: Rural hospitals in J&K continue to face a shortage of more than a thousand doctors, as the “fast-track recruitment” of medical officers to make up for this shortage has run into problems.
As per official sources, there is a shortage of 1,120 doctors in hospitals in rural areas for several years now. The recruitment of medical officers on fast-track basis was initiated to fill 921 posts. However, it faced resentment with 437 doctors refusing to join duty, despite repeated reminders. The Jammu and Kashmir government had to cancel their appointment.
The order in this regard was issued by Health Commissioner Atal Dulloo following complaints by officials that 437 doctors appointed as Medical Officers had not joined their place of postings even after multiple notices and repeated reminders.
The department has also issued a notice giving last opportunity to another 79 medical officers, who have submitted their joining reports but are not physically present at their place of postings.
Last year, the Health & Medical Education department completed the process of fast-track recruitment in record time of 3 months, whereupon orders of appointment were issued to 921 Medical Officers on January 14, 2019.
However, most of the doctors failed to join duties due to various reasons, including unwillingness to serve in far-flung areas.
This scenario has further deteriorated the situation in hospitals outside Srinagar and in rural areas. As per official data compiled by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there are only 761 doctors working in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) against the sanctioned strength of 1,347, leaving a huge vacancy.
Similarly, Community Health Centres (CHCs) have only 190 specialist doctors available against 344 sanctioned posts.
The ministry’s report has attributed various reasons for shortage of healthcare professionals in public health facilities, noting particularly the unwillingness of doctors to serve in rural areas.
“The situation has not improved despite several incentives and benefits to doctors for serving in rural areas,” it says.
Director of Health Services Kashmir, Dr Kunzes Dolma, admitted that there was a huge shortage of doctors in rural hospitals. However, she said, the health department had started clearing the waiting list of the recent selection process to compensate the shortage.
“We are facing shortage of many doctors in hospitals, which is why the fast-track recruitment was initiated by the government. Unfortunately, not many joined their duties. Now we are working on the selection of doctors in the waiting list. It will take some more days to complete. Till then, we are trying to rationalise the staff,” she said.