Pradeep Pattanayak

At a time the State government is claiming that the picture of health service has changed for good and people are getting better healthcare facilities, the ground reality tells a different story. 

The posts of doctor are lying vacant in all the hospitals starting from SCB Medical College and Hospital (SCBMCH) in Cuttack to VIMSAR in Burla, leaving the people fending for themselves. 

According to a source, out of 45 sanctioned doctor posts at Medicine department of SCBMCH, only 22, including 14 contractual ones, are managing the show. For the eight units of the Medicine department, there are only four professors with the Urology and Nephrology departments lying without professor. A contractual professor at the Endocrinology department is attending to patients. 

Similarly, in VIMSAR, of the total sanctioned posts of 36 professors, eight are lying vacant. Of the total 71 associate professor, 144 assistant professor and 223 senior resident/tutor posts, 21, 36 and 95 posts are lying vacant respectively. 

The situation at MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur is no different either. Here, against the total sanctioned posts of 39 professors, four are lying vacant. Similarly, out of 81 associate professor, 162 assistant professor and 124 tutor/senior resident posts, 18, 15 and 33 posts are lying vacant respectively. 

“Critical patients from PHC, CHC, sub-divisional hospitals and district headquarters hospital (DHH) are generally referred to SCBMCH. If the facility runs without professors, their coming to SCBMCH is of no use,” said president of Odisha Rajya Rogi Adhikar Mancha, Amiya Bhushan Biswal. 

Echoing Biswal’s views, secretary of Private Doctors’ Association, MKCG, Dr Subas Chandra Sahu said departments running without  professors has hit the healthcare system badly. 

Meanwhile, the State government’s plan to manage the scene by making contractual appointments to avoid cancellation of seats has come to a cropper. 

The Directorate of Medical Education and Training (DMET) had issued a notification regarding contractual appointment in 50 professor and 144 associate professor posts lying vacant in several medical colleges. Later, it turned out that specialists were reluctant to work as contractual doctors. 

While 10 had applied for 50 professor posts, 104 applied for 144 associate professors. After verification, seven professor candidates and 71 associate professors were called in for an interview. But on the interview date, many didn’t turn up. As a result, the Health department appointed only one professor and 20 associate professors. 

When contacted, Dr Ramacharan Mohanty ascribed the terms and conditions for the appointment of professors and associate professors to the vacant posts. “Those who find our terms and conditions suitable are applying,” said Dr Mohanty. 

When asked, Health Minister Naba Kishore Das admitted that there is a doctor crisis across the State. “Our aim is to provide better healthcare service to all. As several medical colleges have been opened, the shortage of doctors has emerged. It will continue for some period but there will be a surplus of doctors after five years,” said Das.