The Madras HC on 6th February 2023 refused to interfere with the decision of the Directorate of Public Health & Preventive Medicine & directed the doctors to report to duty in the Centres allotted to them. This was seen in the matter of Dr Sri Hari Vignesh R v. State of Tamil Nadu & others, The Matter Was Presided Over By The Honourable Justice Mr.N.Anand Venkatesh.
FACTS OF THE CASE
The main contention of the doctors was that the posting is not commensurate with the qualification & specialisation attained by them in the PG course. It was also argued that the health centres do not have the services to enable them perform their area of specialisation.
Justice Anand Venkatesh noted that the 19 doctors, who were before the court, had opted for UPHC & APHC at the time of counselling & cannot be allowed to wriggle out by stating that they do not have the necessary services in those PHCs
The court said there are various instances where doctors with specialization have rendered their services in remote villages & rural areas without any services and they have paved the way for creating new services for the poor people.
“This is the attitude with which the doctors are expected to render their services. The patients look at doctors who treat them like god when a precious life is saved and this Court expects doctors to maintain that standard & render service The PG doctors cannot be heard to say that they will work only if all the services are available. Let not Gods waste their time in litigation.”
The doctors had argued that the State had previously given an undertaking to the court that the services of super speciality doctors would be utilized “in commensurate with their qualification either in the headquarter hospital or in the hospital attached with the Medical College in the State of Tamil Nadu run by the State Govt.”
It was also contended by them that there was discrimination between in-service doctors & non-service doctors as the in-service doctors are never posted to PHC, UPHC or APHC. The petitioners further submitted that they are not averse to working in PHCs provided that services which are commensurate with their qualifications & specialisation are available
On the other hand, the State submitted that even in-service doctors are sent to UPHC & APHC and thus there is no discrimination. The State also said the petitioners have themselves opted for UPHC & APHC at the time of counselling.
The court said the petitioners, who have completed post-graduation in various disciplines have also executed a bond & undertaken to render service for 2 years.
“The State Govt. has spent a lot of money towards these doctors and these doctors must necessarily give back something to the society during the bond period by taking up appointments/postings in the places allotted & opted by those doctors at the time of counselling. These doctors are not going to render their service free of cost & they are going to be paid salary every month on par with the fresh recruits coming under the Tamil Nadu Medical Services,” said the bench.
The court added that if the authorities fail to utilize the services of the petitioners within the bond period, they will lose the chance of making use of the specialization that has been gained by these doctors.
Observing that State Govt. is very serious about providing best services to poor patients belonging to those areas, the court, however, said the attempt to upgrade the health centres is a slow process since it involves huge investments in procuring specialized equipment.
“The services that are presently available may not cater to all the specializations attained by the petitioners. However, a PG doctor cannot be permitted to state that he will work in a UPHC and / or APHC only if the specialization achieved by him is available. The PG doctors must bear in mind that the State Govt. has spent a lot of money on them & their services are attempted to be utilized. These doctors, can always join the concerned UPHCSS/ APHCs and can help the Govt./Health Department by giving their suggestions & increasing the services available in the concerned PHCs, said the court.
The court farther said that a poor person in a village or a rural area must also get the services of a specialist.
“Even though the petitioners have completed their course, that does not mean that they have become specialist doctors and it takes a long period of practice to achieve specialization. In fact that is the case with all professions. These doctors getting exposed at the PHCs can gain a lot of experience to hone their skills. Even to perform well in the chosen field of specialisation, an overall experience in handling patients in distress during the Initial period of practise helps the doctor grow with a strong foundation.”
The court farther stated that it is the moral duty & legal obligation of non-service PG doctors to render their services during the bond period.
The court added that instead of finding excFACILuses & engaging in litigation, the doctors should be proactive in rendering their services & helping the poor & needy people in the village & rural areas. “For farther up-gradation of PHCs & APHCs, the State Govt. as well as the Medical Department require the inputs from the PG doctors to understand the type of services that should be enhanced in the concerned PHC, it said farther. The court also said the PG doctors cannot take the stand that they will only work in the hospitals with all facilities. “If this stand is to be sustained, the services of most of the non-service PG doctors cannot be utilized during the bond period,” it added.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY YAKSHU JINDAL.