Recently, Labour ministry has confirmed its decision regarding the rejection of mandatory bond of Rs 25 lakh for students of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC ). While the students will hail this move however, it seems not to have gone well with many of the officials within the ministry, who complained that students will now join the private sector leaving a big gap of expertise at ESIC hospitals.
The initial plan for introducing this mandatory bond for the ESIC run medical colleges was to deter the students from joining the private sector after graduation. This was in view of ESIC’s hospitals facing a manpower crunch.
This shortage of doctors, is expected to increase as further implied the Mint, with 54 dispensaries being converted into small hospitals in 2016 under the ESIC network. Currently, it holds a network of 151 hospitals, 36 of which are run by the corporation.
The labour ministry data confirms that 1,908 sanctioned posts for doctors in ESIC hospitals, with at least 567 are vacant. There are also reported vacancies for 382 specialists.
“We have given up the Rs.25 lakh bond plan,” said ESIC director general Deepak Kumar, as reported by the Mint.
ESIC’s board, headed by Union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya, recently disapproved of the plan, according to R.K. Kataria, medical commissioner of ESIC. He said medical students at ESIC colleges do not pay even 10% of the money the government spends on them. The bond plan was to ensure that such students, after their highly subsidized education, serve ESIC hospitals. An MBBS student at an ESIC medical college pays Rs.24,000 as annual tuition fee.
Instead of the bond plan, Kataria said, ESIC will now offer students a 100% placement as soon as they complete the courses. “In 2016-17, we will absorb the 100 doctors graduating from our medical colleges, and by 2019-20, we will absorb 500 of them,” Kataria said. “It’s a 100% placement for our own students in our hospitals.”
Since ESIC has spent thousands of crores on medical colleges, it is unfair for students who get subsidized education and then join the private sector, a labour ministry official said. “So, the Rs.25 lakh bond plan was mooted, but in the current political environment, such a move has been put on the back-burner,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Operating under the labour ministry, ESIC provides healthcare to more than 20 million industrial workers through different clinics and hospitals. It also runs five medical colleges, with seven more likely to be launched soon.