Published: 27th August 2021
How reasonable is the compulsory rural service for PG high speciality doctors?
The Directorate of Medical Education in Tamil Nadu just ordered a fine of Rs 50 lakh on students who skipped compulsory rural service. Here’s why
Non-service doctors who pursue their higher speciality post graduation from private institutions in the state are required to serve at government hospitals for two years as per the terms of the bond signed by them at the time of admission, to the tune of Rs 50 lakhs. However, there have been violations of that order over the years, with about 250 doctors skipping the service last year, and 112 doctors doing the same this year. The Directorate of Medical Education has asked the deans of various colleges to issue a show cause notice on the matter, and fine the doctors the bond amount of Rupees 50 lakh.
Speaking to Express, Dr R Narayana Babu, Director of Medical Education, said, “Till last year the bond amount was Rs 2 crore but we have reduced it to Rs 50 lakh. During the counselling held on July 30 this year, these doctors opted out even though there were vacancies.” The bond amount circa-2017 was Rupees 20 lakh.
The reason behind a compulsory government service for these doctors is two-fold. Firstly, state governments have alleged that the expenditure on training high speciality doctors is an investment by them, and they cannot be faulted for expecting service once the doctors are qualified.
Secondly, the governments attempt to make up for the absolute dearth of good doctors in rural areas in the country via this mechanism. The orders have been passed in different states at different amounts of the bond. For example, the amount in Gujarat was at 10 lakh for a service of three years, whereas in Karnataka, the service period is one year. The Ahmedabad High Court actually squashed the order in April 2019, stating that the conditions of the bond were harsh, unreasonable and onerous.
Ever since NEET was instated, the state governments have split allotting of seats for PG candidates by 50 per cent. However, Tamil Nadu had made it compulsory for students from the All India Quota under NEET to also go through the two year state rural service.
The Madras High Court had first removed the compulsory service requirement in 2018, and then reinstated it in 2020. Telangana on the other hand, nullified the one-year service requirement that they had, stating that it was not yielding desired results because of non-participation of the students.