The Punjab government seems to be at loggerheads as a large number of doctors working in state’s rural areas apparently not supporting the government’s move to merge them with the strength of the state Health Department in an attempt to meet the staff shortage.

However, the Cabinet sub-committee headed by Health minister Brahm Mohindra is yet to take a final decision on the issue, but it is expected that the ‘merger’ is most likely finalised. Sources said that the out of 850 doctors, only 150 medical officers working in the rural areas had given their consent to the state government to merge them with state Health Department.

On the other hand, a majority of doctors do not want merger as they claimed that their appointment in 2006 was based on then notification stating about their posting in rural areas.

As per the data available with the Health Department, against 1,770 sanctioned posts of specialist doctors only 1,368 posts are filled. Adding to it, there are as many as 750 less doctors in rural and urban health centres as well. There are as many as 1,185 subsidiary health centres in rural areas of the state.

“We have mooted a proposal regarding the merger of doctors working in rural areas with those who are working in urban areas. This will help us to shorten the gap between demand of doctors in rural and urban areas. The proposal will be placed in the upcoming Cabinet sub-committee meeting,” Health and Family minister, Brahm Mohindra told The Statesman.