Health Dept. decides to withhold service quota in certain specialities; doctors’ associations see red

In a G.O. issued on July 1, the Health Department said that the number of seats reserved in postgraduate (MD/MS) admissions for service candidates will be decided dynamically on a year-on-year basis

Updated - July 10, 2024 11:43 pm IST

Published - July 10, 2024 10:29 pm IST - CHENNAI

Instead of reserving 50% seats in postgraduate medical courses for in-service doctors, the Health Department will decide on the number of seats to be reserved for them on a year-on-year basis. It has also decided to withhold service reservation of seats in certain specialities for 2024-2025.

The decision to restrict reservation for service doctors has irked a section of government doctors, who pointed out that the in-service quota was restored after a legal struggle, and diluting it was objectionable.

In Government Order (G.O.) 151, issued on July 1, the Health Department said that the number of seats reserved in postgraduate (MD/MS) admissions for service candidates will be decided dynamically on a year-on-year basis. For 2024-2025, the service reservation of PG seats for specialities other than General Medicine, General Surgery, Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Orthopaedics, Anaesthesiology, Chest Medicine, Radiology, Community Medicine and Forensic Medicine will be kept in abeyance for a year, and will be reviewed based on the situation for the next academic year. The reason cited was saturation of vacancies.

Both the Tamil Nadu Medical Officers’ Association (TNMOA) and the Service Doctors’ and Post Graduates’ Association (SDPGA) have vehemently opposed the order, while the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors’ Association (TNGDA) has said that this should have been done in a phased and scientific manner.

TNMOA said that it diluted in-service reservation. If the State government’s real concern was the saturation of postings, what was stopping it from creating new posts for accommodating service candidates so that many specialists would be available for patients, it asked. The association said that the 50% in-service reservation was the basic foundation on which the public health infrastructure of the State was built.

Supreme Court verdict

It pointed to the Supreme Court judgment in TNMOA Vs. Union of India that States had rights to provide a separate channel of entry to in-service candidates. M. Akilan, TNMOA secretary, reiterated their demand for a legislation to provide 50% service reservation to protect the rights of doctors.

SDPGA said that the move was against the rights of government doctors. As per National Medical Commission UG/PG minimum standard of requirements 2023, the government had to sanction around 100 new faculty posts for each non-clinical speciality and ENT, Ophthalmology, Dermatology and Psychiatry. It was not right to keep these PG seats out of the service quota, which could lead to a faculty shortage and, consequently, difficulty in getting recognition from NMC.

P. Saminathan of SDPGA said that the 50% service quota should remain in all specialities. He pointed out that there were 23 vacant posts of assistant professors of neurosurgery in government medical college hospitals. “In-service candidates are the feeder category for government medical colleges and government hospitals. If the government is going to restrict this, it will lead to a dip in the availability of specialists in the future,” he said.

“It is learned that the government has restricted service doctors from getting into PG courses that already have surplus specialists…But it should have been implemented in a phased and scientific way. We feel that the list of specialities is not proper. Emergency Medicine and Radiation Oncology should have been included,” said K. Senthil, president of TNGDA. With this restriction, Dr. Senthil said that out of the 1,500 service quota PG seats reserved earlier, 1,000 would be available now.

The Director of Medical Education could not be reached for a comment.

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