Sufaarish rules the roost in Health Deptt
‘Pick And Choose’ Policy For Registrarship Jeopardize Medicos’ Career
Srinagar, Feb 23: If the Health Department in Jammu and Kashmir is relieving a candidate close to a minister or a bureaucrat to undergo mandatory Registrarship, why are his counterparts denied this right? That is the key question that the Valley medicos are asking as the Department refuses to allow them to undertake the vital training programme, which could make them eligible for the posts of lecturers.
Documents available with Greater Kashmir reveal how the Health Department is pursuing a pick and choose policy with regard to relieving its Assistant Surgeons for the Registrarship and Senior Residentship—a two to three year training programme for doctors and also a prerequisite to compete for teaching posts. This is, not surprisingly, forcing the medicos to move court for justice as the trend seems to be making its roots in the Health Department allegedly to ensure that these doctors lag behind in competition for lectureship.
While a number of Assistant Surgeons, working with the Health Department, have been appointed as Registrars in different Medical Colleges in Jammu and Kashmir by duly constituted selection committees, only a handful of them, having their affiliations with bureaucratic and political circles, have been relieved by the Department for Registrarship. Interestingly, one of the candidates relieved for Registrarship has strong political backing. Another is the daughter of a senior minister while some others are allegedly close to bureaucratic circles.
“Registrarship is a tenure based appointment wherein doctors get to work in their respective specialities to enhance their skills and at the same time earn eligibility for the post of lectureship at the Government Medical College Srinagar, Jammu or SKIMS Medical College Bemina. The objective is that the Registrars /Senior Residents work in specialized departments where they deal with complicated cases and get practical training,” a group of Assistant Surgeons told Greater Kashmir. “The posts of Registrars and Senior Residents throughout the country have been created as tenure posts and after completion of tenure appointment such appointees are relieved to join back their permanent posts in the Health Department. Some of them apply for teaching posts in teaching hospitals of the state. This has been happening in Jammu and Kashmir since the inception of its teaching medical institutes.”
The Health Department, they said, is forcing the doctors to file writ petitions before High Court wherein the interim orders have been passed in their favour. “However the Administrative Department and the Directorate of Health Services in Kashmir are refusing to implement even court directions. The valuable time of doctors is wasted. This dampens the spirit of the medicos and results in demoralizing them,” the candidates, wishing anonymity, said.
In a couple of writ petitions, in which interim orders have been passed by the High Court, the medicos have clearly underlined that the Health Department was refusing to entertain application forms of eligible in-service Assistant Surgeons.
Being the in-service candidates, the candidates are required to route their applications through their administrative department and no candidate can apply directly.
“The medicos were considered for Registrar-ship along with other similarly situated candidates. But their process of selection has been withheld due to the condition that they have to get themselves properly relieved from the Directorate of Health Services within three weeks time. They approached the office with the request to properly relieve them by giving the same treatment as has been given to their colleagues selected through the same process,” reads a petition. “But the Directorate of Health Services categorically refused to relieve them without any reason or justification. In the past, right from 2006, the Health Department has been continuously refusing to forward the application forms of the eligible in-service Assistant Surgeons. Besides there are number of other Assistant Surgeons who are not permitted to apply and whose application forms are not being forwarded to the Administrative Department.”
In one of the petitions, the High Court has asked the Commissioner Secretary Health to relieve the Assistant Surgeons, but to no avail.
THE STATE ARGUMENT
In response to the petition, the Health Department through its counsel has argued that the medicos have been appointed as per “the need and requirement of the Department” and therefore cannot be allowed some other benefits like allowing them to take up assignment of Registrar-ship as that would “directly affect the health care system.”
The state also argues that it would not be proper to allow the medicos to take the assignment as the health institutions, where they have been posted, would remain without doctors and would have adverse impact on the healthcare of patients in the rural areas.
But the medicos believe that if the state policy was really something to go by, then it should be applicable for one and all. “There are doctors who have either served in rural areas for a brief stint or some haven’t served there at all, but still they have been relieved for the Registrar-ship and that too without intervention of court. The only difference between them and us is that they are influential and we are without influence. The long term consequences would be that in coming years doctors from Kashmir valley won’t be eligible for the post of lecturer in teaching institutes like GMC/SKIMS. These illegal and arbitrary actions of the Health Department means violating the legal and constitutional rights of medicos,” the medicos argued. “If the Health Department feels it will hit health services in rural areas, it must depute the doctors there who have already completed their Registrar-ship. Instead extensions are given to them, which is hampering entry of others for the programme.”
The Director Health Services (Kashmir), Dr Muhammad Amin, said they can’t relieve its medicos due to shortage of doctors. “We have an acute shortage of doctors. Our 500 doctors are on deputation to Medical Education as Registrars, Demonstrators and Senior Residents in GMC Srinagar and SKIMS Medical College. We are not against their Registrarship. But relieving them would hit our health services in rural areas at a time when our service domain is fast expanding,” he told Greater Kashmir.
Amin claimed that no doctor, under probation, has been relieved for Registrar-ship. “We have so many health institutions operating in the Valley. Some medicos have been relieved because there was provision to do so. Wherever we have the provision like two doctors in a particular speciality, we try to relieve one,” he said, admitting that the “frequent writ petitions” in this regard was annoying.
Amin said Registrar-ship was compulsory for doctors of Medical Education and not the ones working in Health Department, a claim which is refuted by the Health Department medicos saying “it helped doctors in gaining tremendous experience in different specialities.”
The Commissioner/Secretary, Health, refused to comment on the issue while the Minister for Health didn’t respond to repeated calls from Greater Kashmir.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 23 Feb 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 23 Feb 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 24 Feb 2011 00:00:00 IST
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