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Dispur move stirs hornets' nest


GUWAHATI, Feb 9: Dispur’s plan to convert the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital into an autonomous institution has hit the roadblock with many senior doctors of the State opposing the move.
An office memorandum last year prepared by Principal Secretary of Health & Family Welfare Department Samir Kumar Sinha had mentioned that once the GMCH is developed into an autonomous institution and a Centre of Excellence — its faculty members, officials and staffs will be paid salaries at par with the best healthcare institutions in the country along with facilities such as attending international seminars in India and abroad with free transportation and accommodation. All service-related matters of faculty and other academic and non-academic staffs of GMCH will also be taken care of by the institution itself.
Sinha had prepared the memorandum on the basis of decisions taken during a meeting between State Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and faculties of GMCH at the hospital premises on June 27, 2016. The objective of the meeting was to find out a mechanism or chalking out a roadmap as how to make GMCH a Centre of Excellence to serve patients, especially those who are poor and needy. The meeting also decided to put a bar on GMCH doctors to go for private practice and no doctor of the hospital will be transferred to any other hospital in the State.
Sources told The Sentinel that when the Health & Family Welfare department recently sought individual opinions, suggestions and feedbacks from doctors at GMCH and five other medical colleges & hospitals in the State on the issue, many of them opposed developing GMCH into an autonomous institution arguing that the development will be an injustice to those doctors who are working outside Guwahati.   
“At present there is no difference or disparity in service rules and salaries to doctors working at GMCH and five other medical colleges & hospitals in Dibrugarh, Silchar, Jorhat, Tezpur and Barpeta. But once the GMCH is converted into an autonomous institution there will be disparity. Such disparity will be an injustice to us. Why should we get less salary and other privileges by doing the same job as our GMCH counterparts?” posed a doctor working in Tezpur Medical College & Hospital.
 Another senior doctor working at Jorhat Medical College & Hospital said once the GMCH becomes an autonomous institution its doctors will not be transferred to any other hospital in the State. “So it will result in giving the golden opportunity to a section of doctors to serve in Guwahati without serving the rural populace,” the doctor said.
Sources said the Health department is considering opinions, suggestions and feedbacks of doctors before taking any final decision on the issue.