HYDERABAD: The mandatory one-year rural practice for junior doctors is snowballing into a major crisis for the government with the Telangana Junior Doctors’ Association (TJUDA) threatening to go on strike over the issue. Although TJUDA, with 6,000 members, is yet to finalise a date, their belligerent attitude comes a day after association representatives from Osmania Medical College, Gandhi Medical College and Kakatiya Medical College unanimously agreed that the state government immediately scrap the mandatory rural practice and replace it with a voluntary system.
What has forced agitators to harden their stand is the belief that if junior doctors are forced to take up mandatory rural medical service every year, the government may shy away from filling vacancies in government sector hospitals and medical teaching hospitals.
“The day TJUDA representatives attended the meet, the AP government came out with a decision to fill 545 vacancies in government sector hospitals and medical teaching hospitals with permanent staff by issuing a recruitment notification shortly. But what is the Telangana government doing?” wondered TJUDA president Dr G Srinivas.
Srinivas explained that most of the 1,200 junior doctors who passed out early this year and awaiting their mandatory one-year rural practice, are interested in joining as permanent staff in government hospitals and medical teaching colleges either as civil assistant surgeons or assistant professors instead of working as temporary staff for a year.
However, state health department officials said that they too are planning to come out with a recruitment notification to fill all vacant posts in government sector hospitals and medical teaching colleges in Telangana, but are helpless as they are yet to arrive at the exact vacancy position pending bifurcation of medical staff based on Kamalanathan Committee guidelines.
“Non-filling of vacant medical posts in the government sector in Telangana cannot be an excuse for junior doctors to avoid compulsory rural practice for a year. Since they have executed a bond with the state to serve rural areas, they cannot go back on their promise. Now, a junior doctor has two options: serve rural areas for a year or pay back Rs 20 lakh as per the condition mentioned in the bond in case somebody wishes not to take up mandatory rural practice,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.