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Assam docs make beeline for VRS
GUWAHATI, MAY 9 (AGENCIES)
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Published on 10 May. 2010 12:02 AM IST
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At a time when Dispur is making tall claims of having brought about a sea change in the healthcare sector, senior doctors are preparing to retire early from government hospitals, citing poor job satisfaction and frustration in their careers.
A slew of measures adopted by the Assam government to improve the state’s health scenario has not succeeded in preventing what could be the beginning of an exodus from the state’s medical colleges. This has put under serious pressure not just medical facilities but also the strength of senior faculty in these colleges.
Sources said many experienced doctors at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), the Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH), Dibrugarh, and the Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH) had applied to the state government to allow them to avail of the voluntary retirement scheme. The applicants include professors and heads of departments in the three medical colleges.
Some doctors, including Atul Medhi, the head of gynaecology department at AMCH, Arup Barua, a professor of orthopaedics at AMCH, Ajit Deka, the head of anaesthesiology at GMCH, P.M. Deka, the head of urology at GMCH and G.S. Borgohain, a professor of orthopaedics at AMCH, have already availed of VRS.
“Most of the doctors applying for VRS have cited heavy work pressure, poor pay package, politics and lobbying in the state health department as reasons for their decision to retire early. These doctors are sandwiched between their duty of attending to a large number of patients as well as classes. Some of them regret that they have neither been able to give proper attention to patients nor to students because of their heavy workload, resulting in poor job satisfaction,” one of the sources said.
In the medical audit reports presented to health and family welfare minister Himanta Biswa Sarma last year, many doctors of the three hospitals stated that their job-satisfaction level was between five and 10 per cent.
Dr Medhi, who took VRS last year, said he had served the state health department for 36 years but it had hardly accorded any recognition to his service. He said he was forced to take retirement since heavy work pressure had started taking a toll on his health. “Mere installation of hi-tech machines and construction of buildings will not bring about the desired changes in Assam hospitals. The government has to motivate doctors. Even at the age of 58, I used to attend to hundreds of patients at the AMCH and teach students everyday, which is not humanly possible,” he added.
Doctors are disappointed by their poor package and inordinate delay in implementing the sixth revised payscale of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for Assam doctors.
“Unlike in other parts of the country, Assam doctors do not even get non-practising allowance for not serving in private,” a doctor at the GMCH said. In Delhi, for example, the non-practising allowance for doctors stands at over Rs 20,000 per month.
Sources said politics and lobbying in the health department was another important reason for many senior faculty members’ frustration. “Only those doctors who are in the good books of the top brass of the health department get their grievances heard, early promotion, less work pressure and no transfer from Guwahati,” the source alleged.
Health commissioner and secretary, J.C. Goswami, admitted receiving applications from doctors for VRS. He, however, refused to accept the reasons cited — less job satisfaction, politics and lobbying in the health department. “Job satisfaction is a very subjective matter and a doctor may not be happy even after receiving a salary of Rs 1 lakh per month. Doctors have a humanitarian role to play in society and the government is doing everything to motivate them,” he said.
The applications for VRS, in the meantime, are continuing.

 
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