Mahiti Hakku Jagruti Vedike (MHJV) has urged Karnataka Governor Rameshwar Thakur to intervene to prevent the transfer of medical specialists from Health and Family Welfare Department to the Medical Education Department.

With the State Cabinet taking the decision to absorb 144 medical specialists on an inter department transfer mode, MHJV has strongly protested the move. By transferring 144 Medical Specialists to the Medical Education department from Health and Family welfare Department, the Government is denying the specialty treatment to poor patients who access these hospitals across the state, said JSD Pani, president, Mahiti Hakku Jagruti Vedike. The transfer should be stopped because the health and family welfare department is already facing an acute shortage of doctors at its hospitals.

Karnataka has 2195 primary health centres (PHCs), 8143 health sub-centres, 323 community health centres, 26 district hospitals with total 10, 045 beds, 42 taluk hospitals with 10,461 beds and 17 Urban PHCs with 102 beds. In addition there are 14 Teaching Hospitals attached to Medical Education Department with bed strength of 8,571.

In the specialty General Medicine, there are 250 physicians and 158 vacancies. Under General surgery, presently 183 surgeons are employed and there are 68 posts to be filled up. There are 329 Obstetricians and Gynaecologists with 211 vacancies. There are 102 Anaesthetists with 129 posts to be filled. There are 176 Paediatricians and 59 posts vacant. There are 101 ophthalmologists with 103 vacancies. There are 149 orthopaedicians and 51 vacancies. In the ENT department, there are 79 doctors and 58 posts are lying vacant. There are 57 dermatologists and 19 posts need to be filled up. In the Psychiatry department, there are 28 specialists and two vacancies. There are 45 radiologists and 28 vacancies. There are 17 pathologists and 9 vacancies. Therefore, the total number of working medical specialists is 1,516 and there are 895 posts vacant at the health department hospitals.

Pani informed that the 144 specialists were on deputation as lecturers in Medical Education Department and the Health and family Welfare department wanted to recall them to be posted at hospitals. But the specialists preferred to stay back at medical colleges at the cost of rural public healthcare.

The health department has already made an expenditure on the higher education of these doctors. At the cost of the public money, now the Karnataka government is relocating them to the medical education department, he explained.

Further, Pani in his memorandum indicated that it was impossible to take the issue to the Karnataka Lokayukta as the complaints on service matters are not entertained by vigilance arm under Schedule II of the Act because it involved favouritism, bad governance and public interests.

If there was a shortfall of teaching staff in Government Medical colleges, the vacancies could have been filled under the new recruitment drive. Not only that most of the medical colleges are autonomous bodies there was no need to go through the State public service commission. The option of recruiting lecturers on Contract was also open, stated Pani.

The medical colleges can be served by young postgraduates and not specialists as their services are critical for patient care at the government medical centres. Therefore, he requested the Karnataka governor to make every effort to retain the doctors at the health department.