Doctors in Rural Posting Entitled For Bonus Marks In PG: Madras HC

Healthcare in rural areas of India is not something we can be proud of. Be it the number of clinics or hospitals, their infrastructure or quality of treatment, a lot is left to be desired. To make matters worse, what if doctors themselves refuse to get posted to such areas? The Madras High Court has recently issued a ruling that might make such doctors change their minds.
Assistant surgeons who had served in rural areas are to be given bonus points in the admission to the Post Graduate Degree/Diploma Courses for the academic year 2014-15- this is the directive given to Tamil Nadu’s Directorate of Medical Education (DME) by the Madras High Court. This ruling came last week after a petition filed in the court by 3 doctors who had worked in rural parts for three years and were looking forward to getting extra points in their PG tests. The 3 petitioners worked as Assistant Surgeons in remote areas and were appointed by the Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. As per the Government Order of 30thDecember,2010, such service candidates of Post Graduate or Diploma Courses are entitled to bonus marks and the petitioners demanded that they be considered for 3 extra marks out of 10 for their work stint.
In the Government order of December 2010, it was mentioned that a doctor who serves in his/her place of posting for at least 3 to 5 years has a right to incentives, including additional marks in the PG admission tests. Considering this, the High Court ruled in the petitioners’ favor and instructed the DME to award 2 extra points for each year of service ‘as per sub clauses 2 and 3 of clause 38 of the prospectus for the admissions.’
This incident might serve as a landmark case and bring about more incentives for such doctors across the country. The issue of doctors serving in rural or difficult to reach places has been in the news since long.
In 2013, the Government had made it mandatory for every MBBS doctor to undergo a one year compulsory rural posting in order to sit for their PG entrance exam. This decision met with huge protests by doctors across the nation. Different sections of doctors held rallies against this decision.The protests saw the support and participation of both senior doctors as well as young graduates. They all demanded that such postings should be voluntary and not imposed on medicos against their will. The Indian Medical Association(IMA) had said at that time that such compulsory service is not feasible as there is no structured posting in rural areas and instead, rural posting should be made part of the internship and post graduate training. This nation-wide protest gave rise to Save the Doctor campaign.
In February, 2014, the Union Ministry finally assured the protesters that their demands would be considered although the doctors found “little clarity” in the meetings held between them and the Ministry. The doctors were assured that the rural posting would not be applicable for doctors appearing in PG examinations for the year 2015-16 but despite this, doctors were skeptical as nothing had been given to them in writing.
With the Madras High Court case, maybe the Ministry would find a way to make service in rural areas more acceptable by doctors. While it is true that people in remote places are equally, if not more, in need of good medical treatment as in urban areas, our young doctors should also be given more incentives to take some stress off their shoulders and make them happily continue their work, both in cities and remote villages.

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