While the government has put an embargo on training and higher studies of doctors working with Directorate of Health Services, it has turned blind eye towards some 600 doctors deputed outside the directorate and more than 700 posts lying vacant.
A recent order issued by Health and Medical Education Department (05 HME of 2015) bars doctors from applying for higher studies and trainings completely ignoring the fact that more than 600 doctors are on deputation and working anywhere but in rural hospitals. These doctors, working in GMC/SKIMS and other departments of government have been excused from serving in rural hospitals. According to official documents, about 250 doctors are deputed with GMC and SKIMS alone. In addition, about 100 doctors are posted with various departments or serving at a position outside rural services. Some of these doctors have been occupying administrative and other posts in Medical Education Department for years.
A DHSK official said, "These are doctors with connections, therefore authorities do not dare to remove or transfer them." While Director DHSK, Dr. Sumir Ji Mattoo, said that government was in the process of reviewing deputations, a highly placed source in the department said that government will use one pretext or the other to shield these doctors who are either well connected or use some other means to stay outside the staff-constrained rural hospitals.
Currently, there are 450 doctors undergoing various courses in GMC and SKIMS. However, doctors working with Health Services, as per the order issued by the government, will not be permitted for any training. This order, as per health experts, completely ignores the fact that up-gradation of skills and qualifications of rural doctors is as important as having them available in hospitals. "What is this order supposed to mean – that rural doctors will have to be denied their basic right to education while other doctors, who could very well be filling in, are allowed to enjoy prized postings."
The shortage of doctors due the place of posting preference can very well be gauged from the fact that in Srinagar district, against the sanctioned strength of 194 doctors, a surplus of 25 doctors is posted making the total number of DHSK doctors in Srinagar a total of 219.
Comparatively, in other districts, the situation is a total contrast. In Kupwara district, against the sanctioned strength of 284 doctors, only 141 are in position leaving a shortfall of 143 doctors. The situation is no better in Baramulla district where the far located health centers of directorate are running on dismally low number of doctors. In Baramulla district, against the sanctioned strength of 366 doctors, only 247 are available leaving a deficit of 119 doctors.
Out of these doctors, that are 'available' as per official records, services of hundreds are not available as they are either pursuing some course, or on some other posting that excuses them from serving in the rural hospital. As per official records, against the allowed 6 percent training reserve quota in the health services, about 25 percent doctors are on training leave.
The decision of the government to halt rural doctors from pursuing trainings and studies, as per experts, has been issued without taking into consideration the ground realities. "Government needs to review the whole set-up. Its interim measures will do more harm than good," said a senior health official.