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Specialist doctors plan mass resignation

Cut up with the Health Department relocating them, many have not taken up their new assignments

THE April 1 transfers of over 461 doctors by the Health Department, following a High Court order to equally distribute specialist practitioners across the State, has not gone down well with a section of the medical fraternity.

Doctors, part of the recently formed Karnataka Government Specialist Doctors’ Association (KGSDA) are contemplating a mass resignation, as they believe the relocation of doctors, who have been divided into surgical and medical categories, is “unscientific, irrational and arbitrary”.

The surgical team comprises ENT, orthopaedic and general surgery, and the medical team consists of general medicine, paediatrics and dermatology.

Earlier this month, the KGSDA took up the issue with the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal and the High Court to stop the doctors’ relocation. While the High Court stayed the relocation order, the Health Department went ahead and announced the transfer list on April 1, said KGSDA treasurer Dr Rajesh K S.

Many transferred doctors have not reported to the newly assigned posts.

Process opposed

“The Health Department in some cases has posted a specialty doctor to the general duty medical doctor’s post, and vice versa. We will decide on the resignation after the meeting next week,” said Dr Rajesh.

While the association was not against the transfers as such, it was against the process, stressed KGSDA president Dr M Thimmappa.

The government had voluntarily agreed to proportionately redistribute doctors in hospitals (community health centres to district hospitals) with no doctors, after the High Court took note of a writ petition filed by a social worker on the lack of doctors at the Muddebihal taluk hospital.

The problem would be felt acutely in those hospitals where certain specialties would be removed, he said. “It will create a hostile environment in those areas where people used to certain specialty services will now have to do without them,” Dr Thimmappa said.

In 2007, several primary health centres and community health centres were upgraded, but the doctors’ posts were not raised accordingly.

“The government has not made any attempt to increase the number of specialists or recruit more doctors all these years. Instead of relocating specialists now, they could have done so after direct recruitment, which will take place in a span of two to three months,” he said.

Around 14 doctors from the Bangalore Urban district have been relocated and a majority of the postings are in North Karnataka.

Decision defended

However, officials at the Health Department defended their decision saying the aim of the relocations was to provide, if not optimal, at least minimal services, till the human resource crunch was sorted out.

“We split the doctors into two categories so that while he/she practises his/her specialty in a hospital, he/she can provide elementary aid to other patients and refer severe cases to a centre having that particular specialty. Some service is better than no service,” said Dr Suresh Shahpeti, joint director (planning).

He said doctors were being moved to hospitals with no doctors or specialists. The Health Department has 2,500 sanctioned posts for specialty doctors, out of which 738 posts are vacant.

(Published in Deccan Herald on 29th April, 2011)


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