HC Asks Odisha Govt To File Better Affidavit On Vacancies In Medical Colleges, Hospitals

Cuttack: The Orissa High Court has expressed dissatisfaction over an affidavit filed by the state government about vacancies in the posts of doctors, nursing officers, pharmacists, and other staff in government hospitals and medical colleges in the state.

A division bench of Justice Subhasis Talapatra and Justice Savitri Ratho asked the state government to file a better affidavit in line with a direction issued by the HC earlier. The court was on Wednesday hearing a PIL, filed by lawyer and social activist Chittaranjan Mohanty in 2018, seeking intervention for filling up all sanctioned posts in government hospitals and medical colleges in the state to improve health care.

The Health and Family Welfare Secretary had on April 12 filed an affidavit which claimed  5,000 doctors will be recruited in the next six months. The affidavit indicated that under the Odisha Medical and Health Services, at least 2,561 medical officers’ posts in different medical hospitals are vacant against a sanctioned strength of 10,774.

At the government medical colleges under the Odisha Medical Education Service (OMES) cadre 339 posts of assistant professors, associate professors, and professors are vacant against a sanctioned strength of 1,571, the affidavit said. However, Mohanty in a reply affidavit on Wednesday pointed out that the state government had failed to comply with the court’s order to provide granular details of staff positions in all government hospitals.

He cited the court’s order on January 3, 2023 which said, “Now that the government has full facts before it, there should be no delay on its part in taking corrective measures. The court would like to see tangible changes taking place on the ground in respect of each of the matters pointed out by the petitioner in his note.” Taking note of it, the bench directed the state government to file a better affidavit giving a clear road map complying with the court’s earlier direction by July 27, the date fixed for next hearing on the matter.

The HC had earlier asked the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSAs) to report on the ground situation in Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs). Subsequently, the petitioner filed a note analysing the various reports submitted by the DLSAs. The note also set out the various shortcomings noticed by the petitioner during his personal visit to some of the PHCs and CHCs in Cuttack, Jajpur and Jagatsinghpur. The petitioner also offered a number of suggestions as to what steps should be taken by the Government immediately to redress the dire situation.

The affidavit of the Health department claimed that 7,483 nursing officers and 4,204 multi-purpose health workers will be recruited as soon as possible keeping in view the large number of vacancies in sanctioned posts in different government hospitals.

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