Punjab Rural Service : State takes steps to encourage doctors to work in rural areas
Punjab rural doctors threaten stir for being denied PG quota seats in medical colleges
Members of the Rural Medical Services Association (RMSA) on Monday threatened to strike work in protest against the health department’s move to get 60 per cent quota in MD courses indefinitely postponed for admission into Punjab’s medical colleges.
In a last minute demi official letter written by Health Secretary Vini Mahajan to Baba Farid University (BFU), counseling for admission to 60 per cent of MD seats in government medical colleges — slated to be held on June 19 and 20 — had been put off.
The RMSA, armed with a Punjab and Haryana High Court order — allowing rural medical officers working under rural development and panchayat department to benefit from the quota — has alleged that this is a move is to delay their entry into the colleges.
RMSA president Dr Aslam Parvez said the health department was “not in favour” of rural medical officers getting into medical colleges to pursue MD. “If the BFU did not announce fresh counseling dates at the earliest, we will be forced to go on strike and only the health department will be blamed for it,” he said.
He added that the department was constantly changing rules for admissions. “First, the health secretary laid down a policy of categorisation of the department’s own doctors on the basis of the time they had served in rural areas. This was challenged by the Punjab Civil Medical Service (PCMS) in high court but it lost the case. Now, instead of sticking to this, the health secretary has moved a case of doing away with the categorisation under pressure from PCMS doctors,” said Aslam.
Claiming that at one stage, the health department had categorised rural dispensaries in order to consider rural medical officers for quota in state medical colleges, Aslam said: “We are opposed to categorisation, as it is part of the policy to send doctors into rural areas and rationalise postings. It cannot be applied to us. However, the categorisation formula, which applied to us, seems to have been withdrawn today as the letter has been taken off the official website.”
When contacted, Mahajan said there is an arrangement of providing PCMS doctors with an opportunity to pursue MD, as besides providing primary healthcare, they also cater to secondary and tertiary healthcare.
“Our hospitals have the requisite equipment for specialist doctors to work. However, rural medical officers are providing only primary healthcare and only need to complete MBBS. Even if they do MD, they will not have the facilities in their dispensaries to put their specialty into practice,” she said.
She added: “It is not them versus us. We appreciate the services they are providing in rural dispensaries. In fact, we are coming up with a policy where rural doctors can be absorbed into PCMS after a certain number of years. Then for MD seats, they will not have to serve in rural areas, as is mandatory for PCMS doctors.”
In a bid to encourage government doctors to work in rural areas, the Punjab government today revised the eligibility guidelines for admission in state-run medical colleges to pursue post graduation. According to the policy, 60 per cent PG seats will be reserved for Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) doctors who have completed three years of rural service. Every year’s additional service beyond three years would fetch one extra mark, a spokesman said. The revised guidelines would be implemented with effect from November 1, 2010. Rural service for this purpose means service at health institutions situated beyond 15 km of the notified municipal areas. The 15-km limit has been fixed for all the municipal towns irrespective of their size and the category of municipal committee, the spokesman said.