Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Government Doctors of Orissa are tortured like never before. Two notifications of mass transfer in close proximity to an earlier one have become devastating to medical environment. If the administration doesn’t change its harassing stance, the Doctors may go on strike en masse, though the Orissa Medical Service Association (OMSA) says, the cease work would be in protest against cold shoulder shown to their demand for Dynamic Assured Career Progression (DACP).

DACP is a just demand. The Doctors are not only assigned with the most intricately complicated duty of saving human life, but also are the ones that hail from the most brilliant academic stuff. But once in Government job, they are left in the lurch at the mercy of corrupt bureaucrats and incompetent politicians sans any scope for fair pay commensurate with their caliber or at least for timely promotion in service. DACP may do away with this drastic disadvantage, they hope.

Hence, in the guise of putting pressure for implementation of DACP through strike, which the Doctors in general would not hesitate to join, the OMSA is trying to put the Government in a predicament that may, as a matter of compromise, end in modification of the mindless orders of transfer that is pushing the medical care sector into melancholy, specifically as Office bearers of OMSA having been shunted out of Bhubaneswar into remote corners of the State, their organized demand for DACP is set to suffer.

Doctors are in distress as the Service Tribunal has refused to impose any ‘stay’ order on the orders of transfer. This has emboldened the Government to refuse to heed to the just demands of the Doctors for DACP even. This is clear from nonoccurrence of the cabinet subcommittee meeting scheduled to consider the DACP issue on April 13.

When the Minister of Health has threatened the Doctors with prosecution under ESMA, a surprise body of self-proclaimed watchdogs of patients’ rights is precipitating the situation by raising demands for arrest of physicians who would go on strike.

All the media organizations having their constituencies in Orissa are today flooded with Government advertisements aimed at brainwashing the people against the organization of the medical community.

The Minister is openly threatening the Doctors with ESMA, the draconian legal instrument created by anti-people politicians to choke every voice of employees’ resentment against unbearable unfair official practices. Shadow boxers are taking the name of patients’ right to intimidate the Doctors so that their proposed strike is stymied. OMSA President’s credibility is also in decline as he preferred protesting against the order of his own transfer when he was conspicuous by his silence over the posting scam executed through Notification No.7027/H dated 18.3.2010 discussed in these pages on 23 March 2010. The OMSA officials’ double standard in matter of transfer of Doctors in general has made many physicians so disillusioned that it is not as certain as before that the announced strike would get total participation. The Government’s tactics to treat OMSA officials with carrot and stick has resulted in this dwindling of Doctors unity. The Government knows it. And therefore, administration has no hesitation in torturing the Doctors. This provides the sophomores basking under the aura of administrative power the opportunity to derive enough sadistic pleasure by eclipsing the brilliant lights of academic career at this moment.

The wrong that needs correction:

The Executive as well as the Judiciary is wrong in the matter of Doctors’ transfer. The official version that the orders of transfer was necessary to ensure that no Doctor should stay in the same place of posting beyond six years and that this happens to all categories of government employees is absolutely wrong because this never happens in the Doctors’ case. Under this cover, in reality, only the Doctors are subjected to favoritism, nepotism and post-fixing.

Has the Health Minister or any in the administration ever understood that Doctors, like the Teachers, are not mere servants of the Government, but are much above the concept of Government servants? Have they ever understood as to why it is universally held that when others’ jobs are ‘Service’, the Doctors’ is a ‘Profession’? Had they understood this, the savers of human life would never have been forced to agitate for their own fair living.

Let me narrate a few events that I am witness to.

A few years ago, from my village Tigiria I got a letter from a senior citizen, Bidyadhar Tunga, asking me to find out where Dr. Shiba Kumar Rath was staying. I collected from the Health Directorate that Dr. Rath was working in the Hospital at Sakshigopal of Puri District and informed Sri Tunga accordingly. The next day he arrived at my residence at Bhubaneswar and requested me to take him to Sakshigopal. He had some ailments, which could have been treated at the Capital Hospital. I suggested him accordingly. But he refused. I suggested that I can take him to S. C. B. Medical College, Cuttack where he may get advice from proficient Professors. He refused. I finally took him to Sakshigopal, where Dr. Rath was most happy to devote time to him. Reaching back home, after a week, Sri Tunga thanked me for the help I rendered with the information that he was completely cured.

Dr. Rath was in Tigiria about fifteen years prior to this event. Why Sri Tunga was so eager to find him out and get his advice even though medical advice was available to him at the doorstep and everywhere, even in the Medical College nearest to his home?

Confidence of the patient in the Doctor is the reason.

On another occasion, a Western Orissa couple appeared in the emergency ward of Capital Hospital where I was consulting a Doctor on my personal ailments. They wanted to know where they can get Dr. P. C. Mahakud. They had come from Kinjirikela in Sundergarh District. The Emergency Doctor informed them that Dr. Mahakud had been transferred to Nimapara and offered his services to them. They declined and insisted that they had come such long a distance to take the advice only of Dr. Mahakud. As they wanted how to go to Nimapara, I was curious to know as to how they knew Dr. Mahakud. They informed me that he was the Doctor in the Primary Health Center in their locality a decade ago.

In yet another event, a man from Pallahara once came to my residence in search of Dr. B. N. Mishra. Dr. Mishra was my neighbor and at that time, a Medical officer in the Capital Hospital, he had come to my residence for browsing an old newspaper that he was in search for. Gathering from his residence that he would be in my place for sometime, the gentleman, suffering from jaundice at that time, came to my house to save time. I found Dr. Mishra was very happy to see the man after around two decades. As he heard him, he stopped his newspaper search and left with the man. I gathered, he admitted him to Capital Hospital and gave him all the treatment required till he was cure of the ailment.

Space does not permit me to give further instances of this type. I myself have my preferred Doctors whom I consult as and when required instead of going to more known names. Why this? This is because; patients grow their confidence in Doctors.

Sad, the Ministers and the mandarins never understand this. Therefore, they are harping on transfer of Doctors. They are unable to understand that every transfer of Doctors is a loss to every patient under his treatment.

If you ask me, I will say, stop every transfer of every Doctor. If there will be no transfer, every doctor would develop a sense of belonging to the people he/she serves and there shall be no problem in the health care sector.

A few suggestions:

Instead of indulging in transfers, the Government should do at least four things.

One, the Doctors should be granted DACP sans any delay so that in their respective hospitals they would get the satisfaction of promotion, peace and tranquility they need essentially.

Two, the Government should provide them with laptops and internet facility so that they can update their knowledge, which is now severely lacking.

Three, reorientation training must be made a must for every Doctor discipline wise.

And four, registration of every Doctor should be of only five years duration and every Doctor should be subjected to examination every five years to test the desired standard of his/her knowledge update, failing which re-registration should be denied.

This last suggestion I have derived from a discussion with Dr. Shubhashish Circar of Ranchi whom I held with high esteem because of his spotless commitment to his profession.
The Government of Orissa should take note of the issues I have raised. It should desist from denigrating the Doctors and from pampering puppets in its attempt to intimidate them.

If without constructive approach, the Doctors are treated with unprincipled orders of transfer, whims and caprices of the Minister and the mandarins in the health department may be satisfied thereby; but the sane society must say that the doctors are tortured.

Let the savers of human life not be tortured.

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