Funds Crunch Leaves Govt. Medical College Hospital In Sick Bay

Financial crunch has hit the Indira Gandhi Government Medical College and Research Institute, coming in the way of filling vacancies, construction of quarters for staff and providing amenities.

With Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research being the only option for medical aspirants, the college was established in 2010 as there was need for a government medical college in the Union Territory.

From its inception, the college had found it difficult to get mandatory recognition from the Medical Council of India for admitting students because of inadequacies in the creation of infrastructure and maintenance of staff strength, professors, tutors and resident doctors.

Though in the last two years, the college was able to fill the required infrastructure gap, it was yet to address the shortage of staff, including nurses and professors.

“We run the hospital with a minimum number of nursing staff. The shortage hits our services and puts additional strain on the existing staff,” a senior professor told The Hindu.

The hospital functioned with around 146 nursing staff. As per the MCI norms, 372 nurses were required in a 750-bed hospital in the nurse-patient ratio of 1:2. So, as per the council norms, the shortfall was around 220, said the doctor.

The vacancies are in categories such as nursing superintendent, assistant nursing superintendent, head nurse, staff nurse, nursing sister and auxiliary nurse midwives, said a nurse.

The hospital was finding it difficult to recruit specialist doctors in all speciality units. One area of immediate concern, according to a senior doctor, is the shortage of staff in radiology department.

The institute recently procured a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment at a cost of around ₹6.5 crore. The machine was on a trial run but doctors say its utilisation would be delayed if adequate manpower was not provided.

The radiology department has an assistant professor, who single-handedly manages patients coming in for ultrasound, CT scan and x-ray. The hospital expects a huge inflow of patients as the MRI machine at the Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital and Post Graduate Institute has become dysfunctional. “The patients at GH are now referred to a private hospital following an agreement the government entered with the private management for reimbursement of the MRI facility used. Once the MRI at our hospital becomes operational, patients will obviously be referred to the medical college. We need qualified staff to operate the machine and to provide timely report,” said a resident doctor.

The lone radiologist in the hospital will find it difficult to write all reports for the images generated in the radiology department that includes ultrasound scanners and CT scans. On an average, around 300 patients a day utilise the facilities in the department, said a hospital staff.

The hospital faced recurrent shortage of medicines. In its 2017 audit report, the Comptroller and Auditor-General had pointed out that against the prescribed number of 348 essential drugs for a tertiary care hospital, only 145 were found out of stock. “The situation in drug procurement had gradually improved but we are not able to meet medical requirements of patients. Main reason for shortage of medicines is funds crunch,” said a pharmacy staff.

No quarters

Despite the Medical Council of India’s direction to the hospital management to build quarters for nursing staff and resident doctors, the government has been unable to find resources to build the quarters. In fact, the MCI repeatedly flagged the issue of construction of quarters. “As per the council norms, all medical colleges should have staff quarters inside the campus. This is to ensure that patients get timely treatment even during off working hours,” said a professor. One of the major problems the hospital faced was lack of quality multipurpose workers including in casualty, wards, clinical and non-clinical departments, operation theatres and pharmacy.

Against all rules, the government recruited 771 workers in 2016 through the back door, just before the Assembly elections. “We are clearly unable to engage them professionally in the management of various services as they lack technical and medical qualification,” said a resident doctor.

A. Bupathy, dean of the medical college, said issues were addressed in a time-bound manner. The process was on to recruit more staff, including nurses and professors in the radiology department, he said. – The Hindu

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