Over 2,500 who were hired as temporary staff are waiting for regularisation
S. Ramu, a post-graduate in medicine, has been serving at the TB hospital in Thoppur for two years looking forward to specialising in his dream discipline of neurology. However, a delay in the conduct of eligibility tests has denied temporary employees such as him the opportunity to pursue higher studies.
He is among the 2,546 doctors who had been promised that they could write an eligibility test and regularise their jobs on completing two years of service. The test and the subsequent regularisation are a must if doctors are to write entrance exams for higher specialities in surgery or medicine. The doctors were recruited through the employment exchange.
Government doctors said the blame for the delay rests with the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC), which was appointed the recruiting body for doctors in 1982. Over the years, the commission has been burdened with more responsibilities and now conducts eligibility tests for various posts in State-run institutions.
“In the light of the burden on TNPSC, we had been seeking a separate body for medical professionals in the State. The chief minister approved the proposal and in 2011, the government set up the Medical Recruitment Board to oversee recruitment to healthcare institutions,” said K. Senthil, president of Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association (TNGDA). On April 19, the Board conducted an examination for a new batch of 2,800 doctors. They would soon receive their postings. But there is yet no word on the status of the doctors recruited on temporary basis.
Concerns over seniority
Only the TNPSC can conduct the eligibility test for temporary appointees. The MRB does not have the authority to do so, Dr. Senthil said.
He noted that if the doctors appointed on temporary basis can appear for PG entrance tests as service candidates, they would not lose their seniority.
The other option for them is to apply for higher education as non-service candidates.
“However, this will mean I will be deprived of seniority and my two years of service will not count for anything. Also, I will have to settle for a stipend during the intervening period of study. This will be about half the salary I would get as a government employee once I pass the eligibility test,” Dr. Ramu said.
“Stipend not enough”
Higher speciality courses last for three years and many doctors who wish to take up post-graduation or super speciality degrees are over 30 years of age and may have to fend for their families. A stipend would not at all be enough for them, a specialist said.
The association has been holding meetings with health department officials to sort the issue for several months now, Dr. Senthil said.