Armed forces' doctors: Bond for early quitting raised


New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) The government spends some Rs.1.7 crore (Rs 17 million) on training an armed forces' doctor. With many of them quitting before serving the mandatory 20 years, the severance bond for doing so has been raised to Rs.25 lakh (Rs 2.5 million), with the amount rising to Rs.30 lakh (Rs 3 million) for those who have done specialised courses.

The bond will be further enhanced by Rs.1 lakh (Rs 100,000) per year for next five years, the defence ministry official said.

With the armed forces already facing a 12 percent shortage of medical professionals, 21 doctors have so far quit the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) in 2014, up from the 19 who quit in 2013.

Between 2007 and 2014, so far, 1,347 doctors were commissioned, while 153 quit.

All those who quit have paid the requisite severance bond, hitherto Rs.15 lakh for undergraduates, Rs.5 lakh for postgraduates from a civilian background and Rs.15 Lakh for post graduates with an AFMS background.

In 2003-04, the bond amount was raised from Rs.3 lakh to Rs.15 lakh after 27 medical graduates quit before the stipulated time.

Starting from the 2014 academic year, a doctor who has done his MBBS (undergraduate) or MD (postgraduate) from the AMFS will have to to pay Rs.25 lakh for leaving the service before completing his stipulated time.

Doctors who have done super specialty courses would have to pay Rs.30 lakh for quitting prematurely.

"The increase in bond money may help in bringing down the attrition. While some doctors feel they have a better future outside the forces, over last few years, especially after the Sixth Pay Commission, there has been some change in attitude," the defence ministry official said.

"The high stress environment is one of the major reason doctors leave, but the forces spend a great deal of money in training doctors. Adding to that, the quality of training is much better than most other civilian colleges. Therefore, retaining our doctors is important," the official added.

"The lure of self employment, a higher-paying private sector with stability in terms of no routine transfers and better prospects for the family in civilian areas are some of the factors we feel are taking the doctors away," the official said, adding: "There are more patients in army hospitals, lesser facilities, and longer working hours."

At the same time, "we are proud of our doctors who face all odds to serve the nation", the official noted.

AFMS is a tri-services organization that functions under the defence ministry. It has 5,800 doctors and 620 dentists to cater to 13.25 lakh serving armed forces personnel. It oversees the functioning of hospitals of all three services, and is one of the critical logistics arms of the armed forces in both war and peace.

There are nearly 133 military hospitals -- 111 of the Indian Army, 10 of the Indian Navy and 12 of the Indian Air Force -- across the country under the AFMS, along with 90 field hospitals.

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