Thiruvanathapuram: The 3 year compulsory bond service introduced for post graduate students in Government Medical Colleges has generated a war of sorts in the field of medical education, with junior doctors feeling antagonized by the government move and fervently opposing it. The three year compulsory bond will be actively implemented from the current academic year.
A recent report in Deccan Herald points out that till the previous year, medical PGs had a one year compulsory service bond to adhere to. Defining the government’s three year compulsory bond move as exploitative, the Kerala Medical PG Association (KMPGA), State Secretary, Dr. U.R. Rahul said, “Instead of filling up the existing 545 posts, which are mainly in the entry cadre for Assistant Professors, the government is looking at the bond system to get the work done. Doctors allege that the bond will delay regular appointment chances for doctors.
“Look at the timeline of a doctor’s professional life once the bond system kicked off,” said Dr. Rahul. “It takes six years for MBBS, nearly two years for preparation for post-graduation, three years for PG, three year bonded service as senior residents and another three years for super specialty. A person who joins for MBBS at 18 years would be 34-35 years on the completion of bond period. This means he would not get a permanent job in the medical education sector till he is 34.” he added. “It could be more in the case of an average student , ” he further stated.
Highlighting the growing need for senior residents, Dr. Sadanandan mentioned the upcoming Idukki Medical College, which is to start operations next year and the subsequently coming up Kasargod and Wayanad Medical colleges too .
The government despite brewing opposition continues to stay firm on its three-year compulsory bond decision. “The government is going to provide specialty and super specialty services in taluk and district hospitals as part of the Ardram mission,” said Rajeev Sadanandan, Additional Chief Secretary (health) speaking to the daily.
“We need a large number of senior residents to take up these responsibilities. The doctors are availing subsidized education in government medical colleges and they have a responsibility towards society, ” he added
“Efforts are on to fill up the vacant posts in medical colleges through PSC,” he stated Informed sources in the government state post graduate doctors keep off government services in the name of preparing for super specialty, if there is no bond involved. According to rules a one year senior residency and another one year of teaching experience is required for assistant professor appointments.
Doctors on the other hand deny government claims of lack of availability of senior doctors. “Over 400 candidates had applied for the 12 posts of permanent junior residents in Palakkad Medical College recently,” Dr P.S. Jinesh of Kottayam Medical College told Deccan Herald. “This shows that doctors are waiting for jobs in the government sector.” This rush of candidates also exposes the claim that specialist doctors prefer private sector, he added.
Suggesting that the government make senior resident doctor, a permanent entry cadre post, Dr Jinesh added, ‘This is a win-win situation that ensures the services of qualified doctors for the people, and offers an assured career for the doctors.”
Government sources on the other hand claim that 40 posts in the entry grade have been filled last month. Efforts are on to fill posts in all clinical departments. But it important to retain a minimum number of senior residents for which bonded services are required, they add.
There is antagonism towards the step motherly treatment given to the medical education sector in the budget. Only 45 additional posts have been recommended by it, as against the 1000 posts planned for the health services department, say educationists. The Kerala Government Medical College, Teachers Association (KGMCTA), in a recent move took up the cause of medical colleges with Health Minister, K.K. Shailaja. “We have requested the government to take into consideration workload and deficiency while finalizing the posts in medical colleges,” said Dr Kavitha Ravi, KGMCTA, State President.
“We are preparing a status report on the sanctioned posts, number of vacancies and the posts required considering the work load in each government medical college hospital. The report will be submitted to the minister after Assembly session,” the President added.
As the government goes about doing its level best to bring about effective changes in the medical sector, the reality continues to remain heart breaking. With acute doctor shortages rampant in medical colleges, the race for new medical institutions only adds to the paucity woe.
The Thiruvananthapuram Government Medical College Hospital which should ideally have a bed strength of 900 is overburdened with 2750 beds at present. More alarming is the reality of 4000 patients availing treatment at the hospital many without a bed to lie upon.
A similar fate meets the Kozhikode Medical College, with the highest number of medical seats at 250 and an existing bed strength of 2800. A gap of a 100 doctors exists between the sanctioned and the functional strength, in many medical colleges. The older college hospitals happen to be operating on staff strengths decided 50 years ago, with an odd recruitment, once in a while.
Many in the medical fraternity hope that the KGMCTA attempt to carry out a realistic assessment of the situation in terms of staff strength, work load and required strength will help the government to find permanent solutions to the existing shortfalls, facing the medical education sector.