Dehradun: The State of Uttarakhand has finally decided to take action against all those errant medical practitioners who availed a fee subsidy during their five year MBBS course from Uttarakhand (2008-2013), signed a bond with state government, pledging service on completion of course, but did not fulfill their promise to serve in the hills.
The state government in its effort to curb poor health services in the state has formed a four member committee to take strict legal action against those who broke their bonds with the state. The committee, a first of its kind will comprise of Director of Medical Education, Principals of Medical Colleges (Uttarakhand), Director, Health and Family Welfare Department and the Additional Secretary.
The two government run medical colleges where a majority of these doctors studied are Haldwani Medical College and Vir Chandra Singh Garhwali Medical College in Srinagar. The bond signed by them entailed taking on a hill posting in the region for five years of their government service. Students with private medical colleges also benefited from the government in the form of low interest loans being granted to them for studying. The promise in return was that they would partake in the five year service program extended by the government.
Under this scheme, a bond was signed by each of them with the health department and the medical education department in 2008, whereby, the government gave 1.25 lac as annual fee for each and the student paid a nominal amount of Rs. 15,000 every year. 170 students of Government Medical colleges and another of 161 private medical colleges signed this bond.
A check after 2013 revealed that a majority of the number existed with the Health Department on paper, but in reality none existed on the job. According to a TOI source, 331 young doctors were supposed to have joined duty in 2013, however, only a 116 had took up postings in the hills. Out of the 116, 49 were absconding from their locations.
With a majority of the supported doctors missing, the health graph and health facilities of the state have taken a dangerous dip.
Saturday’s direction given by Secretary of Medical Education Department, D Senthil Pandiyan read, “It has come to my notice that Govt Medical College, Haldwani and Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali Government Institute of Medical Science and Research Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal have given significant number of MBBS doctors to Uttarakhand but most of them didn’t join services as promised by them in the MoU. Department hasn’t taken any action against such absconding doctors, we intend to penalise those doctors as per the law in favour of state and its medical services.”
The committee is to present its report within 15 days, which is to be January 7, 2017.
Meanwhile, Director, Medical Education, Ashutosh Sayana, while confirming stringent action by the government on these doctors said, “We will call the principals of all the medical colleges most likely with the onset of new year where next strategy will be decided in tandem with the law. The principals will give the status report to health department which will ensure further action.”
According to observers, it is the casual attitude and the lack of communication between the medical education department and the department of health that has resulted in the doctors succeeding in fooling the state authorities.
Uttarakhand is presently facing an extreme paucity of doctors, with a bare 800 on shifts, while there exists a need of 2,400 in the state. The current state of affairs is an indication of the dire need of medical practitioners in Uttarakhand, the reason for the state having extended that generous arm of help.