Raising retirement age a quick fix solution, say docs

Raising retirement age a quick fix solution, say docs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to raise the retirement age of government doctors to 65 was described as a “welcome step” by the medical community even though several doctors felt this would mean lesser opportunities for their younger colleagues.

The move could be a quick fix to deal with the shortage of government doctors, they said.

“Extending the retirement age would be the immediate solution to the shortage of doctors across hospitals. But this would also mean that younger doctors will get less opportunities if the number of posts are not increased,” said Dr D K Seth, director at Bara Hindu Rao Hospital.

At a rally in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, Modi announced plans to raise the retirement age of doctors at central and state government hospitals from the current 60 or 62 to 65.

Even though the move may help fill existing vacancies, this cannot be seen as a long-term solution to shortage of doctors. Rural dispensaries perennially suffer from a staff crunch and little is being done to resolve this problem, said doctors.

“This announcement is a publicity stunt. The government should instead focus on changing the policies so that more young doctors opt for government jobs,” said Dr Pankaj Solanki, president of Federation of Resident Doctors Association (FORDA).

“So many posts are lying vacant, especially those in the primary health units. There are no takers for these jobs as there is no sound infrastructure for doctors to carry out their duties in set-ups like rural dispensaries,” he added. Senior doctors felt patients will benefit if doctors serve for a longer time.

“This has been the demand of the IMA (Indian Medical Association) for over three years now. The average age of joining service for government doctors is 29-30. The doctors retire at a time when patients can benefit the most from the experienced doctors. So this is definitely a welcome step,” said Dr K K Aggarwal, honorary secretary at IMA.

“Enhancing the retirement age will not only benefit patients but also students of medicine. Senior doctors will be able to contribute their experiences to the younger doctors,” said Dr A K Rai, medical superintendent at Safdarjung Hospital.Contractual doctors who have been working with government hospitals for a long time feel they should be regularised.

“Contractual doctors who have been working with government hospitals for a time should be regularised. This would mean they also have access to the same allowances and also come under the new retirement age policy,” said a doctor at Rao Tula Ram Hospital.