Chandigarh: Faced with an acute shortage of specialists in government hospitals, Haryana`s health department has decided to sponsor post-graduate studies of doctors on the condition that they work with the state for a certain number of years.
That is not all. The health department is even willing to allow these doctors to go in for higher studies -- for super specialty in their respective fields of expertise.
"Doctors would be sponsored for higher studies with full pay in the specialties where there is shortage of specialists. Their study period would also be treated as service period for all intent and purposes," Haryana Health Minister Rao Narender Singh said.
Health department sources said that there is a shortfall of nearly 200 specialist doctors in the state. Vacancies need to be filled up in the streams of general medicine, general surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, orthopaedic surgery, anaesthesia, pathology, radiology, psychiatry, eye surgery, forensic medicine, ENT surgery, dental, social and preventive medicine, chest and tuberculosis and pharmacology.
This year, the health department has given no-objection certificates (NOC) to 46 doctors from various specialties to pursue higher studies in medical colleges. All of them will be required to fulfil the condition of serving the minimum number of years in the state before and after the course.
Explaining further, the minister said: "MBBS doctors would be eligible for postgraduate course, degree as well as diploma, after completion of five years of regular satisfactory service, which includes two years of probation.
"In all, three years of service should be in one of the district hospitals or a sub-divisional hospital and two years in rural area institutions."
"Only those who fulfil this condition would be eligible for sponsorship against reserved seat in PGIMS-Rohtak (Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences-Rohtak) or other government institutions and against the open seats in the government colleges of Haryana or similar government institutions anywhere else in the country," he added.
Eligible doctors would be entitled to draw full salaries as earlier. The time spent on the course would be treated as service.
Doctors have welcomed the move.
"This is a good facility being extended to doctors. The only thing is that the government and the health department should ensure that those availing themselves of this scheme should be treated uniformly later," a government doctor serving in Kurukshetra district said.
Doctors who want to do their post-graduate course in a specialty not in the `required` list of the health department would have to seek extraordinary leave without pay to pursue the course.
"His service, however, would be protected for the purpose of increments, seniority and pension," a health department official said.
The minister added that a doctor wishing to go for a super specialty course after completing post-graduation would be allowed to do so only after serving the government for a period of at least three years after acquiring the degree.
The upper age limit for post-graduate and super-specialty courses has been fixed at 40 years.
Stringent conditions have been put on the doctors for pursuing higher studies.
"Before being relieved from the department, the doctors would have to execute a service bond for a minimum period of seven years or pay Rs 25 lakh to the Haryana government. In case of post-graduate diploma, the doctors will have to serve a minimum period of five years or pay Rs 10 lakh to the government," the health department official said.
Narender Singh said that no doctor would be allowed to go for any postgraduate programme before completion of regular satisfactory service. "Such people would have to resign from service in case they insist," he added.
There are three medical colleges in Haryana and nearly 600 government hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres. The bed capacity of all hospitals combined is nearly 9,500.