Recently, the Coimbatore Corporation gave a call for recruitment of doctors to its dispensaries and maternity centres and then repeated it quite a few times. But it could not find doctors to fill the existing nine vacancies _ two in maternity centres and seven in dispensaries.

In a few months from now, the Corporation will need to find more doctors as a few are on the verge of retirement. And, it does not know how to go about it.

Corporation Commissioner G. Latha says the civic body finds it difficult to recruit doctors because not many come forward to serve in urban areas, which is not as lucrative as serving in rural areas when considered in the context of the doctors’ admission to postgraduate courses.

Sources say that for every year doctors spend in primary health centres in rural areas, they gain a mark that gets added to their postgraduate admission marks for an advantageous position in the ranking list. And for every year spent in the hilly areas, the doctors get two marks.

They stand to lose the mark if they serve in municipal corporations or municipalities as the health establishments are predominantly in urban areas.

Another reason, say sources, is that doctors in municipal health establishments do not have career advancement options vis-à-vis their peers in the government health establishments. They start as medical officers and retire as medical officers.

Doctors in health services move from assistant surgeon to civil surgeon to senior civil surgeon and have the possibility of becoming joint directors, additional directors and even directors in the Health Department.

The sources suggest that if the career in the municipal health establishments has to be lucrative enough for doctors, then the municipal corporations or municipalities should recruit doctors from the Medical Services Recruitment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu and offer parity in facilities and salary.

For the Coimbatore Corporation, the current vacancy and additional vacancy in the immediate future has come at a time when it is increasing facilities at dispensaries and maternity homes.

In the latter, the Corporation has managed to increase the number of deliveries in the past year (see graphic). And, in dispensaries it is installing more equipment and better services.

To meet the demand, Ms. Latha says that in the immediate future the Corporation will outsource doctors and in the long run write to the State Government for necessary action.

More In: Coimbatore