Should government doctors be sacked for prolonged absence?

Should government doctors be sacked for prolonged absence?


The Orissa state government dismissed 52 doctors for prolonged absence from service. This move is welcomed by some while the others condemn it. These doctors were either busy in private practices or simply neglected the transfer to remote villages. They simply enjoyed the salary and kept silent about their absence from the government hospitals. Show-cause notices were sent to them last month to which they chose not to respond. In a surprising move, the government sacked these doctors for their unauthorized absence. The situation is the same in every state's government run hospitals where patients are not well treated due to absence of doctors who are supposed to be on duty.

Yes, they should be sacked:

1. This is one move that the government should have taken long back. Doctors being absent from duty is one of the major reasons why treatment at government hospitals is not relied upon by most people preferring private hospitals even if they are not able to meet the expenses of treatment there.

2. Patients suffer immensely, especially in rural areas where doctors are absent from duty. Even though doctors are posted to the government hospitals in the villages, they never ever report at work owing to poor living conditions there. They should not join government services if they do not find it suitable for them to relocate to villages or travel daily.

3. Prior charges were framed against these absentee doctors and along with show-cause notices, newspaper notices were also issued against them since their whereabouts were not known. Even after these measures were taken, they neglected duty without responding assuming that the government would soon forget about it. It was absolutely necessary to make it known to them that the days of sit back and earn is gone.

4. Dismissing these long absent doctors was necessary since without sacking the doctors already occupying the posts, new doctors could not be recruited to fill the vacancy. They were simply sitting back somewhere enjoying the salary while the poor people of villages were deprived of health care treatments which the government provides through transfer of doctors to rural areas.

5. Most of these absentee doctors are either busy in their private practices where they think an extra earning with some effort won't harm anyone or never joined duty after a transfer to remote areas.. There is no action taken against them for their absence and hence they totally neglect their duty paying more heed to their sources of extra income, usually private clinics. They neglect patients that need care in government hospitals for the hurry to tend their private patients. Usually patients admitted in government hospitals are left at the responsibility of the nurses and fresher doctors.

5. One amongst these absentee doctors had got selected in AIIMS Bhubaneswar and joined as an assistant professor of physiology without resigning from his government job. When the state government informed AIIMS about his negligence, he was immediately dismissed from the institution. This shows the kind of ignorance doctors have towards government services. They actually believe that there would be no action taken against them. This incident should be an eye opener for doctors in India.

No, they need not be sacked:

1. According to The times of India report: "In Odisha government service, entry-level doctors draw a monthly salary of around ?40,000, which is comparable with salary of medicos in central government institution. However, their growth is uncertain unlike central government jobs, where the promotion is time-bound. In private sector, monetary compensation vary from doctor to doctor; but they are not less than what the government offers". This is one of the major reasons why doctors opt for government jobs but neglect their duty for there is no action taken even if they do so.

2. Instead of straightaway sacking of these doctors, they government should have made efforts to know and understand the reason behind the absence of these doctors. The living standard and conditions in the remote areas of Odisha is very poor and is definite to make an urban doctor feel homesick and deprived of the basic necessities of life which they are usually used to.

3. The government should have taken this as an alarm to improve service conditions instead of resorting to such harsh punitive actions. The condition at government hospitals in cities are bad and worst in villages. To expect doctors to transfer there is a harsh judgement that the government makes even without the approval of the doctor who is to experience complete change in the way of living.

4. Some of these remote villages are under then constant threat of Maoist attacks. "Maoist-affected Malkangiri district has only 35 doctors against sanctioned strength of 97, while 74 posts are vacant in Rayagada district. The sources said 90 and 79 posts are lying vacant in Koraput and Nabarangpur districts respectively. About 112 doctor posts are vacant in Ganjam district against the sanctioned strength of 296, highest in the State. Similarly, 63 and 47 posts of doctors are vacant in Balasore and Cuttack districts respectively."


Government of most of the Indian states have made it compulsory for doctors to serve in rural areas to get into the PG programme. However, this does not imply that the doctors would report to duty unless they are strictly checked upon. Other than this factor, government needs to improve living conditions and infrastructure in rural areas to make life easier in these villages. There is a scarcity of doctors in India. There is only one doctor per 1,700 citizens in India; the World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulates a minimum ratio of 1:1,000. This is a disturbing ratio and the government needs to pay heed to this before healthcare further worsens.
Post your comment


  • RE: Should government doctors be sacked for prolonged absence? -Deepa Kaushik (02/04/15)
  • We should understand that the physician is responsible for the health of the masses. Any doctor practicing in the Government hospital should be aware of his timings and duties. The common man visiting a Government hospital is either lacking enough money to be spent on his treatment in private hospitals or it is the faith on the words of the doctors working in the Government hospitals who will avoid undue tests and costly treatment measures and understand the basic requirement of the patients.

    These doctors cannot escape by simply giving lame excuses of the living standards in rural areas. People do live in those areas as well and as a physician it is a part of his duties to serve the rural population. They need to get accustomed to the living conditions prevailing there, and if possible, should help in the betterment of the living standards of the people struggling in those areas.

    Again talking of taking such a stringent action against the absentee doctors is very much apt. this step is not taken in a while, but after asking for the proper explanation of the same. The doctors who chose to stay mute to the notice should accept the decision without any hue and cry. These doctors failed to perform their duties which had been proving heavy playing with the lives of the common man. the decision of the Odissa Government is very correct and acceptable and it is something that every State Government in India should follow.
  • RE: Should government doctors be sacked for prolonged absence? -Babu Suresh (02/03/15)
  • It is difficult to have a simple YES or NO answer to this issue.
    There must be service rules extant which determines the course of action in such cases.
    However what is important is that if such rules are generic but not specific to medical service, it needs to be amended very soon. The adverse impact of prolonged absence of a doctor could even affect the "right to live" of citizens. It must be dealt with stringently.
    Moreover, by remaining in service but absenting from duty paints a misleading picture of the status of government healthcare in India.
    Overall, prolonged absence of Doctor must be dealt sternly, including dismissal where required.
  • RE: Should government have make more hospital in villages and also make a team who can check their duties -sunil kumar (02/03/15)
  • the more education should provided by goverment at lower level by making it a subject in school and collages. .
  • RE: Should government doctors be sacked for prolonged absence? -raghu (02/03/15)
  • it is true that the living conditions in villages are not good but it doesn't mean that for such reason people will not perform their duties just remember about our soldiers they are living in much harsh conditions people can`t imagine about that...but still they perform their duties...If we ignore villages even then the conditions of government hospital in urban areas are also not so good people prefer to go in private hospitals.Doctors are greedy now a days they just want to earn more they have specific timings to attend private hospitals.