LG needs to get examined why vacancies of MOs in J&K are remaining ‘without’ Doctors?

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In 1980s masses from all three regions of J&K state had started seeing people’s care taker in the person of then Governor Jagmohan. People had started feeling like that for LG Manoj Sinha also who too had been observed physically moving outside Raj Bhawan much more frequently in comparison to the earlier Governors. But inspite of Sinha expressing common man friendly intentions & promising good governance even non- political people do not appear reasonably satisfied, why? must investigate the LG.
One reason could be that people in the ‘1st arena’ of LG may not be providing the feedbacks about the real status of the executions to the LG worth applying needed reforms / deploying the lacking resources/ inputs. One of the sectors that could be referred here could be the health sector. Manoj Sinha has been very explicitly expressing his concern for providing proper health care to the common people which he had also shown just in few months of his taking over by ordering the policy for accelerated recruitment for the appointment of Allopathic Medical Officers to make good the lack of ‘availability’ of medical officers in the rural / distant areas which was not only due to lack of sanctioned .posts but was also more due to either posts lying vacant or in service doctors managing urban postings or in service doctors pursuing PG courses keeping post locked’ or to some extent terms of appointment being offered to doctors are irrational (not fair).

J&K Government had initiated recruitment of about 950 Allopathic Medical Officers (min qualification MBBS only) on September 27, 2018 against regular gazetted posts lying vacant and issued appointment order of 921 medical officers under NO: 4 7 -HME of 2019 Dated: January 14, 2019 ( probation of 5 yrs and no increments & allowances during probation) out which a number of posts still remained vacant either due to some candidates not joining or some leaving after joining. Another requirement was floated on June 10, 2020 for about 950 Medical Officers, min qualification as MBBS degree, with conditions of service again as per SRO 202 of June 30, 2015 and first appointment order for only 459 candidates under accelerated recruitment process was issued on December 31, 2021 vide G.O No. 938 – JK(HME) of 2020 of December 31, 2020, no doubt 2584 candidates had applied ( this time the conditions of service were a little better than order NO: 4 7-HME of 2019 Dated: January 14, 2019 since only the probation period had been reduced from 5 to 2 years in terms of J&K Probationer (Condition of Service, Pay & Allowances) and Fixation of Tenure Rules, 2020 S.O 192.
It appears that those at the helm of affairs in the bureaucracy were not that serious about executing the intentions of the LG, Manoj Sinha, as regards filling the gaps in rendering the minimum health services to common masses and had not taken shortfall / poor response even against appointment order of December 31, 2020 seriously. Had the top rung of Bureaucracy been serious they would have analysed the reasons for the regular substantive posts having remained unfilled even when post was of Level- 9 ( Level-9, 52700-166700 ) requiring only MBBS degree holders ( that too even fresh could apply) against the two orders referred here., did not try to work out what minimum improvement in terms of conditions of appointment was possible so as to apprise the LG about the needed action / amendments since had that been done the UT Government would not have once again initiated another recruitment through an indent placed on atleast on similar terms ( S.O 192 of June 17, 2020 no increment , no allowances during probation ) with PSC under HD- Gaz/Gen/ 47/2021 dated November 18, 2021 for recruitment of 705 Medical Officers including 258 unfilled posts out of earlier indents. From the recruitments initiated since 2018 it could be seen that there were about 2500 posts of graduate Medical Officers lying vacant and that must be putting the distant & backward areas under health cover distress. Otherwise also before placing new intent in November 2021 with PSC the UT Administration should have taken ‘wisdom’ from lead paras of G.O No. dated December 31, 2021 itself where in among other justifications for recruitments the order also said. Quote <“Where as taking cognizance of the lack of medical care facilities in the rural / peripheral areas of UT of J&K due to acute shortage of Medical Officers , the Health and Medical Education department worked out a proposal to utilize all the vacancies of Medical officers including those earmarked for Leave, Training & Deputation Reserves by referring the vacancies to the J&K Public Service Commission for selection purpose on the fast track basis in larger public interest “>
Surely the LG is not being provided the needed feedback and hence his intentions of doing good to common masses and the poor/ backward/ distantly placed people of UT of J&K too are suffering with the posts remaining vacant and the doctors appointed against the posts also feeling that they are being exploited interms of reduced wages and harsh terms of appointment. No doubt there are some other reasons also for shortage of doctors in the rural/ distant / far flung areas in J&K like (i) appointed doctors making efforts for managing urban postings in terms of attachments / dummy posts (ii) remaining away from duty place for one or other reason (iii) some not liking to stay in rural areas where they do not find private practice that lucrative (iv) the women doctors not preferring to work in rural/ farflug areas even when in J&K government medical colleges 50% MBBS admissions are for girls (v) the provision of special leaves for woman doctors like maternity leave- – Maternity and paternity leave SRO-353 Dated October 6, 2015 / Not due Leave of1 year / child care leave of 2 years – Child care leave for woman SRO-232 Dated July 22, 2015 (vi) ofcourse some appointed doctors going on 2 to 3 year study leave ( there being also provision for study leave with pay though it is in the interest of improving health care) and after PG not preferring to serve in peripheral areas.
May be some rules have been framed in recent years to overcome the shortages due to some compelling reasons as mentioned here in above like putting condition of 5 years for working in area where first posted, putting the condition of 7 years working in the BA/LOC area for candidates who take job under RBA/ LOC reservation category, not allowing a candidate who was pursuing PG course at the time of selection , not allowing regular study leave for first 5 years of appointment and like.
But the condition of no increments & allowances during probation period has no justification and public interest involved when UT government is not applying same condition to L-8 lower level gazetted services against which even a simple graduate of any stream can apply where as for MO post only MBBS can apply.
The socio-economic depression to what one could be subjected could well be read from the likely projected wages and wages actually given as projected in Table-A. No doubt there could be some review on other conditions also, particularly conditions other than the requirement of 7yrs first working in the LOC/BA for the candidates who take appointment against reserved quota for RBA/LOC/IB.
Like review JK Leave rules 1979 R-61-4 amended vide S O 234 of 2107-2020 qualifying service from 3 years to 5 years for study leave again to reduce the condition for study leave from 5 yrs to 3 years provided the Doctor will after PG join at same place/ area to complete 5ys or 7 year service. Similarly the provisions like 2yr child care leave for female only/not due leave for one year need review, more over no such provisions like exist in private sector which could keep a female employee away from job for nearly 4 years. More so in J&K Medical colleges 50 % seats are reserved for female candidates and may be female doctors do have some reservations for remote postings.
Government has to find out some way out to ensure that rural/ remote / backward area posts do not remain vacant and they are not left to be attended by Graduate (MBBS/ BAMS) level doctors only.
(Daya Sagar: Senior Journalist, Social Activist, Analyst J&K Affairs .can be reached at [email protected]).