In its attempts to avert a healthcare crisis the Jammu and Kashmir government is mulling to retain some 300 doctors in tertiary level hospitals run by Government Medical College Srinagar who were originally recruited for peripheral or rural facilities.
These doctors are unlikely to be repatriated to their parent department and would continue in the present arrangement until vacant posts of medical officers in the GMC-run hospitals were filled, an official said.
The issue was recently discussed in a meeting of senior officials the medical college and health services with commissioner secretary health and medical education (H&ME) department.
"Representatives from medical college (GMC) impressed upon the authorities that the healthcare delivery in its tertiary care hospitals will collapse if directorate's medical officers are taken away abruptly," an official said.
Over 300 medical officers on rolls of directorate of health services Kashmir (DHSK), meant to serve in peripheral or rural areas are engaged in hospitals associated with the GMC Srinagar, an official of the medical college said.
These medical officers are serving in various departments as residents, registrars and at other posts as well as in the administration as chief medical officers, deputy medical superintendents and in-charge medical superintendents.
Over 200 posts of assistant surgeons, the baseline of doctors in hospitals associated with medical the college are vacant.
These posts have not been filled for years, impeding patient care as doctors from DHSK are engaged to chip in.
Last year, in order to discourage DHSK doctors "overstaying" in the medical college arrangement, the government issued a notice asking them to choose the place where they wanted to serve, a GMC official said.
If a medical officer chose to stay in medical college-run hospitals they needed to accept foregoing promotions in their parent department, the official said.
He said, technically these medical officers are now with GMC Srinagar as their promotions have already been forfeited.
However, Commissioner Secretary H&ME, Atal Dulloo said no decision in this regard had been taken yet but added patient care in tertiary level hospitals could not be "compromised".
"Although our priority is strengthening peripheral healthcare delivery, tertiary care also cannot be compromised," Dulloo said, adding 1000 medical officers were being recruited on the fast track basis to remove shortage of doctors in peripheral hospitals.
"We are discussing the issue."
Principal GMC Srinagar, Prof Samia Rashid said medical officers from DHSK were an important link in the healthcare delivery system of associated hospitals.
"We have requested the government to allow us recruiting assistant surgeons on academic arrangement," she said.
"Until then, we are dependent on borrowed staff."