Doctors with qualifications other than a Fellowship of the College of Physicians and Surgeons (FCPS) or a Masters in Philosophy (MPhil) should be promoted to the new rank of specialist medical officer and be posted to the departments they specialise in rather than as general duty doctors, according to the General Cadre Doctors Association (GCDA).
GCDA President Dr Masood Akhtar Sheikh, speaking at a GCDA meeting to discuss changes to the service structure for doctors, said doctors specialising in healthcare administration should be posted as administrative medical officers and be given priority in administrative positions.
The meeting came in the backdrop of the government’s ongoing negotiations for changes to the service structure with the Young Doctors Association (YDA), a body which represents new doctors, whose demands include the promotion of all medical officers to grade 18. The GCDA, which represents mid-career doctors, says this would be unfair to its members, some of whom have spent many years in grade 17.
Dr Sheikh said that the general cadre doctors with qualifications such as a diploma in tuberculosis and chest diseases, diploma in child health or diploma in cardiology should also be promoted to the level of senior registrars.
He said these diplomas were from either the Punjab University, the University of Health Sciences or King Edward Medical University. “If the government is offering these diplomas then it is the responsibility of the government to recognise these doctors as specialists,” he said.
He said that the diploma-holders should be given at least two increments. He said that doctors with these diplomas were once promoted to senior registrar and even associate professors, but now they were not even considered for senior registrar. He said that 50 per cent of senior registrar appointments should be made from among ‘specialist’ doctors in the general cadre.
A doctor who just obtained their MBBS degree requires four years of experience to get the FCPS or MPhil degrees in order to become a specialist. Most diplomas can be obtained in two years.
Dr Sheikh said that general cadre doctors who had FCPS or equivalent degrees should be posted as senior registrars on an urgent basis.
He said general cadre doctors who had worked as senior registrars on a current charge, contract or ad hoc basis should be allowed to count that time as teaching experience.
Many medical officers would then have over five years of experience and would be eligible to become supervisors, he added.
GCDA General Secretary Dr Muhammad Rafiq said that the association had sought input from its members in all 36 districts on changes to the service structure. A GCDA committee would finalise the recommendations and submit them to the Lahore High Court and the Health Department, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2012.