AIIMS ‘waters down’ norms to hire specialists

Institute has been suffering from staff crunch due to exodus of senior specialists to private hospitals

To address severe staff shortage, AIIMS has decided to float an advertisement for recruitment with "watered down" eligibility criteria to allow more applicants to qualify.

The advertisement was recently cleared by the institute's governing body and the Health Ministry.

"For the 19 super-specialty disciplines in the institute, earlier only doctors who had a super-specialty degree (Mch or DM) in the discipline were eligible to apply. In the latest advertisement, we have said applicants with an MD or MS degree, with three years' work experience in the required discipline, can also apply," said a senior administrative official at AIIMS.

Preference, however, will be given to those with a super-specialty degree in the said discipline and the institute will be required to prove that it could not find any such candidate before hiring anyone else.

This, according to officials, is the institute's way of addressing the problem of staff shortage caused due to exodus of specialists to the private sector and by those taking leave for assignments abroad. As of now, about 45 doctors are on academic deputations abroad.

The Health Ministry had recently approved appointment of faculty members on contract basis in two departments.

An RTI filed by Newsline shows that the last five years have seen a constant exodus of senior doctors from specialty disciplines. As per the RTI reply, 14 of the 38 who quit in the past five years had more than 15 years of experience at the institute, while 19 had more than 10 years. It also shows that seven specialists quit in the last two years to join Dr Naresh Trehan's Medanta Medicity.

Doctors who quit said their decision was not based solely on the pay aspect. A professor in the Department of Medicine, who took voluntary retirement when he was paid a salary of Rs 62,100 at AIIMS, now heads the department at a leading private hospital. He said, "Money is an important factor, but not the only one. We stayed at AIIMS because of its repute and the academic environment. But after politics broke out due to disagreements between Anbumani Ramadoss (former Health minister) and then director Dr P Venugopal, it became impossible to survive there."

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