Over the past one month, as many as 48 ‘missing’ doctors have resurfaced, hoping to be reinstated in the jobs they had deserted years ago. These doctors are State-appointed medical officers, posted in rural Maharashtra, and in district hospitals at Wardha, Gadchiroli, Gondia, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Kolhapur, and Pune among others. Pune district accounts for at least 19 such doctors, according to health department data.
Over the years, most of these doctors launched private practices without bothering to resign from the State-run centres; most didn’t even file leave applications. They simply disappeared, leaving their centres high and dry. The State’s apathy also helped — in the last 15 years, as many as 227 doctors have gone missing from rural health centres.
However, all of sudden, 48 doctors have appeared on the scene and wish to rejoin government services, thanks mainly to a newspaper advertisement issued on July 7 by the Directorate of Health Services, asking them to report for work.
The truant doctors, who were holding the posts of medical officers, were asked to report to the Directorate failing which the state health department will assume that the concerned doctor was not interested in serving the government and that his services would be terminated.
The 48 doctors who presented themselves before the Directorate of Health Services expressed their interest to rejoin the services of the government. Out of the 227 doctors, 179 are yet to respond and the health department is likely to initiate dismissal procedures against them.
The doctors were appointed as medical officers in district, sub-district, rural and mental hospitals, ones for women as well as to primary health care centres across the state including districts like Thane, Satara, Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Wardha, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gadchiroli and Gondia among others.
The state health department also plans to take an undertaking from these doctors that henceforth they would not be absent from services without permission and also that the action taken by the state is acceptable.
“These doctors, who were holding the posts of medical officers at various hospitals and health centres across the state, were absconding and just did not report for duty. Most of them went into private practice; neither did they report for work nor did they seek permission to remain absent from duty.
This went on for several years and nobody reined in these doctors and no action was taken against these doctors by health department officials. Therefore, we decided to initiate action against these officials and fill up these posts,” said an official of the state health ministry.
“Some of them might have realised the perks and facilities of government service are better and they might have chosen to return,” an official pointed out.