Chandigarh: The Punjab government has decided to replace regular MBBS doctors with empanelled doctors at primary health centers and 400 Aam Aadmi Clinics (AACs) in rural areas.

The government is also planning to shift medical officers, pharmacy and nursing staff, lab technicians etc from these centres to district hospitals to hire contractual staff in AACs.

The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association, an organisation of regular doctors, has collectively protested against the new policy of the Punjab government.

On behalf of the association, State President Dr. Akhil Sarin said that they are not against the Aam Aadmi Clinic model but it is in no way a substitute for the structure of health services established across the country of Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs).

A primary health centre does not just mean a clinic, it is also necessary to get out of the clinic and reach out to people of the area. He said when the disease spreads, doctors have to work round the clock. Earlier there were 422 PHCs in Punjab but out of them 400 were upgraded into AACs.

Medical officers and health workers have been doing this for the past several years. This structure played the biggest role in handling the Covid pandemic but sadly this system is being tampered with Aam Aadmi Clinics, officials said.

They said under Aam Aadmi Clinics now contractual doctors and other staff are being recruited instead of a medical officer. It is a populist policy to reduce the posts of primary health centres created according to the population, if the government wants to improve the health system in reality, then instead of ending the jobs in such a hidden way, it should recruit more staff on the vacant posts.

Various district-level organizations are also said that temporary staff were hired in Aam Aadmi Clinics without any examination, the conditions of which are also fatal because anyone can be expelled without giving any opportunity of any investigation.

With this, people with good ability will not apply as they will get money on basis of examined patients only. This type of recruitment will hollow out the system.

The union also announced to open a front against the state government if the decision has not been rollback soon.

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