SC blow to incentive plan for docs in rural areas

The Supreme Court verdict against incentives for postgraduate service doctors working in remote and difficult areas of Bengal has put the state government in a fix.

The incentives were aimed at encouraging doctors to work in rural health care centres at a time when the government is facing a shortage of doctors in state-run hospitals.

The Supreme Court on Saturday quashed the Calcutta High Court decision to provide the incentives on the ground that there is no need to provide incentives to service doctors who have already been posted this year in hospitals at various remote and difficult areas. As a result, around 300 postgraduate service doctors in Bengal will not be able to avail themselves of the incentive.

Senior officials of the health department said there is a shortage of around 1,500 medical officers in state-run hospitals. The Supreme Court verdict will result in more vacancies at subdivisional hospitals in remote and difficult areas, they said.

Manoj Ghosh, registrar of West Bengal University of Health Sciences, said they would approach the Supreme Court next year so that postgradaute service doctors can get benefits.

In January 2012 ,the Calcutta High Court rejected the list of remote and difficult areas prepared by the state government in November last year and ordered a fresh list.

The first list had failed to identify clearly the remote and difficult areas. For example, hospitals in developed areas of South 24-Parganas like M R Bangur Hospital in Tollygunge and Baghajatin State General Hospital were listed as "remote and difficult" though both are located in south Calcutta.

A fresh list was prepared and deemed valid by the Calcutta High Court and on September 27, it ordered the state government to carry out the incentive scheme for postgraduate doctors posted in remote and difficult areas.

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