CHANDIGARH: Following the footprints of the Haryana state government, the Punjab government has decided to re-hire specialist doctors to overcome the shortage of specialist doctors.
Punjab health system, especially in rural areas, is struggling with an acute shortage of specialist doctors, as not many are willing to take up the jobs in government hospitals. There are 1,696 sanctioned posts of specialists, of which 309 are lying vacant. There are 2,340 sanctioned posts of medical officers, out of which 175 are vacant.
The worst shortfall is that of specialist doctors — surgeons, gynecologists, pediatricians, and physicians — at the community health center-level. At present, the retirement age is 58 years and doctors are given two years’ extension.
The government has now decided to re-employ specialist doctors till the age of 65 years. The re-employed doctors will not be given administrative responsibilities and will be asked only to perform clinical duties. They will be posted at the station of their choice.
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As per Punjab health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, "The proposal is under consideration of the finance department and approval is expected in a couple of days."
Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) has supported the government's decision to re-employed specialist doctors. The association, however, wants re-employed doctors to be given only clinical jobs. “They should not be given administrative responsibilities. Young doctors should get the opportunities,” said PCMSA state president Dr. Gagandeep Singh.
Haryana has already started re-employing specialist doctors after retirement. Since last year, the state government has re-employed about 100 retired doctors.
Despite putting in efforts, the health department has been struggling to fill the vacant posts. Of the total 513 advertised posts of medical officer (specialist MS/MD) in 2018, the Punjab government had managed to fill just 140 posts. The department will conduct 32nd walk-in-interview for the vacant specialists posts soon. At the same time, it has also been pursuing the case for the transfer of 750 rural medical officers (RMO) from rural development and panchayats department to the health department with intent to strengthen the public health system.