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Strict action against absentee doctors in Kerala

Absentee doctors are a major problem in India, with almost forty percent of the country’s medical workforce absent on a typical day.

Doctors who are absent without leave in Kerala have been served an ultimatum: return to work, or face termination. 

The instruction was delivered by state health minister K. K. Shailaja earlier this week, as she exhorted absentee medicos in the state to resume their posts by Sunday or else be fired. This warning was issued to 483 doctors who were on leave without the proper authorisation, in addition to 97 similarly absent state health department officials. Earlier this year, Kerala terminated 36 doctors from service after they failed to resume their posts after a similar ultimatum. 

“There will be no more extension,” Shailaja said. “For those who cannot rejoin the duty till [the] date, the government is giving one more chance. There will be no more time given for them and the service of the doctors who fail to rejoin will be terminated.”

India’s shortage of doctors is exacerbated by absenteeism within the medical fraternity. Research published in 2011 suggested that almost forty percent of medical service providers including doctors are absent from work on a typical day. Strict action against absentee doctors is necessary to address the problem, as is being witnessed in Kerala where Shailaja has said that the posts – once considered vacant – will be reported to the state public service commission.

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