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Posted at: May 13, 2018, 12:06 AM; last updated: May 13, 2018, 12:06 AM (IST)

Haryana fails to count its doctors

Officially, the state has a shortage of govt doctors. Unofficially, many districts have surplus doctors. Clearly, there is something wrong with manpower policy
Haryana fails to count its doctors
Kalpana Chawla Medical College in Karnal. The govt is planning to open a medical college each in all districts. Tribune photo

Sushil Manav in Chandigarh

HARYANA does not have enough doctors, the state government says. Here’s an instance of how real the shortage is:

  • Dr Hira Lal Gupta (60) is a retired government doctor, but reemployed as per the policy of the state government for retaining retiree doctors up to the age of 65 years. In 2008 he was posted as a senior medical officer at Civil Hospital, Fatehabad. He recalls a woman medical officer walked into his office with a clutch of papers. The papers included her recruitment and posting orders and a fitness certificate. Dr Gupta allowed her to mark her joining and attendance. “Within moments, she returned armed with an application for maternity leave and a certificate of pregnancy with the expected date of delivery,” says Dr Gupta. “Before I could object, she left, her application duly received by the office.” Government rules allowed her to continue drawing her salary.
After about six months, thewoman doctor walked in again and submitted her joining report. “Her joining was accepted. She handed me another piece of paper — this time it was her resignation,” says Dr Gupta. “I refused to accept it and spoke to the civil surgeon. He asked me under what rule I could have rejected any of her applications,” says Dr Gupta.

Visit a primary health centre in the Haryana hinterland, you’d find an acute shortage of doctors. Yet as many as 194 medical officers are posted in the Director of Health Services and other allied institutions in Panchkula, even when there is no post sanctioned for them!

‘Manpower summary’

The state health department has prepared a ‘manpower summary of doctors in Haryana.’ It says as on May 1 this year, there are 2,748 doctors in place against the sanctioned strength of 3083. On the face of it, the situation does not appear grim. Scrape a little deeper and you’d find the mess:

  • Of the 2,748 doctors, nearly 300 have joined their duty, says the additional director. Sources said that over 500 doctors are either on maternity/childcare leave or are pursuing postgraduate courses and drawing salary from the government.
  • As many as 513 others are surplus, which means they are working at places where sanctioned posts don’t exist.
  • The doctors seem to have a particular penchant for working at Panchkula, as besides surplus doctors in the director office, 18 more doctors are working without a sanctioned post in this district. Sources say many of those working in Panchkula are related to politicians or bureaucrats or are well-connected.
In contrast, Bhiwani has 143 doctors against 222 posts, Fatehabad has 86 (129), Hisar 146 (214), Jind 92 (199), Kaithal 82 (132), Sonipat 128 (157) and Yamunanagar, 91 doctors against 112 posts.

Mandeep Kaur, additional director (administration), health department, says the number of doctors working in government hospitals and health centres is not static, but swings every month.

“We have recently recruited over 880 new doctors. Around 300 of them have already joined and several more are in the process of joining. However, this month, we will have to relieve some doctors who have got admission to PG courses. Similarly, some woman doctors proceed on childcare leave or maternity leave.” 

She says the situation is much better at the senior medical officers level. “The shortage is seen at the level of medical officers.”

New plan: More colleges

The government has taken up opening one medical college each in 22 districts. To encourage private efforts, it has been contacting business houses and, even religious leaders, as it may not be possible for the government to set up so many colleges on its own.

The official website of the Haryana Medical Education and Research Department shows the state has five government medical colleges, one government-affiliated college and five private medical colleges.

Health minister Anil Vij says the government has given an NoC to Meeri Peeri Medical College at Shahbad (Kurukshetra) to be run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the college is likely to come up very soon.

The government efforts to persuade Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to set up a college in Sirsa came to naught after his conviction and sentencing in a rape case.

Sources say the health minister Anil Vij has also written to the Dera Beas, but the Dera has declined the offer. But Agarwal Samaj from Delhi has shown interest in opening medical colleges near Bahadurgarh in Jhajjar district. “We will soon achieve the target. It will go a long way in solving the shortage problem,” says Vij.

‘Won’t solve the problem’

Health department sources say opening new colleges will rather aggravate the problem. “Medical colleges do not run without doctors. Our existing medical colleges do not have enough doctors as faculty. Whenever there is an inspection, we receive a request from the Department of Medical Education and Research for deputing some more doctors there,” says a senior officer.

A private medical college representative, who does not want to be identified, says the government “whimsically” changes policies. “Private medical colleges have to charge a fee decided by the government which is often inadequate to meet the expenditure on salary of doctors and infrastructure”, he said.

Sources say a Faridabad-based medical college was shuttered by its owners in 2016 because it was unable to run it with the funds the college generated.

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