'Bond to retain doctors in AIIMS a stale proposition'

Critics don't see much merit in parliamentary panel's recommendation that doctors be made to serve their alma mater

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Sonal Matharu | April 29, 2010



A parliamentary panel's recommendation that young doctors sign a bond to serve for a certain period in the medical institution they graduated from echoes the solutions that have failed in the past. To retain doctors in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India’s most prestigious medical institution, the committee, headed by politician Amar Singh, in its report said that efforts should be made to fill the vacant positions in the hospital in a time-bound manner, said the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare, which was released here on Wednesday,

However, Dr PC Bhatnagar, director, Voluntary Health Association of India (VHAI), said that the government had come up with such resolutions in the past, but had always failed in implementing it uniformly. “Instead of making doctors serve in the AIIMS through a bond or a contract, they should be offered better working conditions in the hospital. Their job packages should be made attractive so that they do not seek better opportunities elsewhere,” said Bhatnagar.

He added that there was much to learn at a place like AIIMS and that an institution should be a place where there were opportunities to grow. The committee’s report mentions that after availing themselves of highly subsidised quality education in India, most of the doctors turn to “greener pastures”. Out of 428 students who passed out of AIIMS between 1989 and 2000, 233 (54%) went abroad, reports The Times of India. Out of the 9,730 jobs in AIIMS, 1621 posts are vacant, reports The Indian Express.

The institute is also falling short of 495 nurses. A study titled, 'Determination of the cost of training of MBBS student at AIIMS', submitted by the hospital administration department says that Rs 1.7 crore is spent in a period of five-and-a-half-year to produce a single MBBS doctor at AIIMS. Whereas, the annual fee of an AIIMS MBBS student is Rs 850 per year, which includes hostel and tution fee.

Bhatnagar adds that the shortage of doctors is a problem everywhere and not just in AIIMS, but it is most visible here because it is the premier institute in the country. “We suffer from shortage of doctors even in the rural areas; so AIIMS is no exception,” he said. A recent Planning Commission report says India is short of six lakh doctors, 10 lakh nurses and two lakh dental surgeons. Indian doctors, however, form five percent of the medical workforce in the developed countries. “The professional integrity should be maintained and politics should not interfere with the hospital’s functioning,” Bhatnagar said.

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