Chandigarh: Doctors in the government health sector want the country's health facilities to improve. To achieve this, they want their own working conditions to improve first.
For the first time, government doctors have formed an all-India federation to highlight the problems they face while treating the majority of the population that avails healthcare facilities. There are over 125,000 sanctioned posts of government doctors across the country, of which nearly 25,000 are lying vacant.
"It has been observed that issues affecting the health sector are more or less the same across India. For the first time, government sector doctors are coming together under the umbrella of an all-India federation to highlight the country's health issues and those of the doctors themselves," Kuldeep Singh, president of the Haryana Civil Medical Services (HCMS) Association, told IANS here.
"The struggle of government doctors in various parts of country to change and improve their working conditions was felt. The contribution of health personnel in general and of the service doctors in particular in running and managing the public health system in various states deserves to be appreciated. Health conditions of citizens have improved despite the constraint and challenges faced by doctors in facilities and other conditions," Kuldeep Singh said.
The All-India Federation of Government Doctors' Associations will take shape this November at its national convention to be held in Vadodra, said the federation's national convener, Ashish Rana.
One of the biggest issues facing the service sector doctors, compared to their well-off colleagues in leading private hospital chains and clinics, is the lack of facilities and equipment. The doctors are demanding that this sector be paid more attention so that government healthcare can further improve.
"All government doctors in India should have uniform pay scales and conditions. Efforts should be made to attract the best doctors to the government sector," Rana told IANS.
The doctors' associations are also seeking the formation of an all-India cadre of government doctors - the Indian Medical Service. They also want that health departments in states should be headed by professionals and not by bureaucrats.
"There is too much disparity in pay and service conditions among government doctors in states. The entry-level pay for a government doctor in Rajasthan is just Rs.30,000 per month for the first two years. In Haryana, the same category of doctors get Rs.50,000 per month while in Delhi it is Rs.65,000," Kuldeep Singh pointed out.
In Madhya Pradesh, senior government doctors opting for a promotion have to suffer loss in pay due to the rules there, he added.
Raising concerns about security in view of recent incidents of violence against doctors, the associations are seeking the enactment of a central law and police protection at all health institutions.
Protection must be accorded to all in-service doctors against frivolous complaints and the government must introduce the system of professional indemnity insurance, the same associations have demanded.