Saturday September 21, 2019

Chronic Doctor Shortage Affecting Delhi Government-run Hospitals

In addition, the private sector is also contributing to providing health care services in Delhi along with Non-Profit Organisations and Charitable Institutions

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Chronic doctor shortage affecting Delhi government-run hospitals. VOA

By Somrita Ghosh and Nivedita Singh

Delhi government-run hospitals, which serve not only the local population but also the neighbouring states, are struggling with a chronic shortage of doctors and are making recruitments on contract or ad-hoc basis to tackle the crunch.

While in Centre-run hospitals like AIIMS, Safdarjung and Ram Manohar Lohia, doctors have the benefit of practising till the age of 70, under extension of service and on a contractual basis after retirement, no such scheme is yet to be implemented in the hospitals run by the Delhi government which face about a 30 per cent shortage of doctors, officials said.

“Out of the total sanctioned posts of 4,644 doctors, about 1,400 posts are vacant,” an official of the Delhi Health Department told IANS on the condition of anonymity.

The official admitted that the services are being affected due to this shortage.

“The functioning is obviously being affected. If we have more doctors, the work can be done in a better and effective way. The posts are filled up by the Central Government through UPSC and through this procedure, recruitment of about 350 doctors is underway,” the official said.

The procedure of appointing doctors, which is done through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), is complex and takes a lot of time. The doctors first have to clear the test conducted by the UPSC followed by an interview.

Vaccines
A doctor assists people looking for treatment for malaria at a health center in San Felix, Venezuela. VOA

“The test results are published after six to nine months. Then comes the interview part and the whole process takes around a year to complete,” a senior official in the Delhi government’s Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told IANS.

Explaining the reasons for the shortage, the official said many doctors, after completing their MBBS, opt for further studies or prefer joining the private healthcare sector due to its higher pay scale.

“All this is affecting the doctor-patient ratio in Delhi hospitals,” the DGHS official said adding, however, hospitals themselves can hire certain categories of doctors on an ad-hoc and contractual basis.

Speaking about the requirements, another Health official said the system is complex. “Some doctors are General Duties Medical Officers, some are non-teaching specialists, some are teaching specialists. The process of recruitment is on and we will have these people in place soon.”

“There are 37 hospitals under the Delhi government, some of them are operated by societies. The hospitals running by societies function in a different manner. They hire doctors for themselves. They have done that in past years, they will do it again, as and when required,” the official added.

Will the contractual system of hiring be extended to the Delhi government hospitals?

“The hiring of doctors on a contractual basis was approved last year in the Centre-run hospitals. However, the states are not obliged to follow it since they have their different process of hiring,” said a senior official in the Central Health and Family Welfare Ministry.

China, Vaccines
A child receives a vaccination shot at a hospital in Rongan in China’s southern Guangxi region on July 23, 2018. VOA

The Delhi health official informed that, unlike the Centre, nothing has been made official on similar lines in Delhi to deal with the doctor crisis.

“The Central government, to cope with the vacancies for multiple positions in different hospitals run by it, has approved the policy of appointing retired doctors on contractual basis up to the age of 70. In Delhi, doctors work till the age of 65 and we are considering to raise the age of working of doctors, we are thinking about this proposal,” the Delhi Health official said.

Last year, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had ordered that all the posts must be filled on contract basis till the permanent hiring process is completed through several government agencies.

“Shortage of medical staff has always been an issue with the Delhi hospitals. While the UPSC is already following the appointment process, the Delhi government-run hospitals can appoint certain category of doctors on a contractual basis by advertising.

“Most of them hire doctors, as and when required, on a contractual basis. The recruitment process is underway in a number of hospitals,” the Delhi Health official further added.

This month, the UPSC announced vacancies for the post of ‘General Duty Medical Officer’ under the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi.

As per the notification, UPSC has invited applications for as many as 327 posts out of which 13 posts are reserved for physically challenged persons, 63 for SC and 28 for ST category with a pay scale ranging from Rs 15,600 to Rs 39,100 along with other allowances.

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“Candidates shall work in the dispensaries and hospitals of the Government of NCT (National Capital Territory) of Delhi and shall be primarily handling patients of various types in these hospitals and dispensaries for medical care. However, they can also be entrusted with other work, including administrative and other related work, as per exigencies of the Public Service,” the notification stated.

Health care infrastructure and services in Delhi are being provided by a number of agencies apart from the Delhi government.

The three civic bodies, the NDMC and Delhi Cantonment Board, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare through its network of hospitals and other specialised institutions, the ministries of railways, defence and labour, and various Central government undertakings are also serving the people in the national capital.

In addition, the private sector is also contributing to providing health care services in Delhi along with Non-Profit Organisations and Charitable Institutions. (IANS)

Next Story

Indian Hospitals are using cameras, tags, lasers to curb Baby trafficking and theft

Indian hospitals are educating their staff to spot baby thieves amid fears that baby trafficking is becoming an organized crime nationwide

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Activists of Socialist Unity Center of India-Marxist (SUCI-M) protest a recent case of child trafficking in West Bengal state in Kolkata, India, Nov. 29, 2016. Officials busted a child trafficking racket and rescued more than 20 children, according to news reports
Activists of Socialist Unity Center of India-Marxist (SUCI-M) protest a recent case of child trafficking in West Bengal state in Kolkata, India, Nov. 29, 2016. Officials busted a child trafficking racket and rescued more than 20 children, according to news reports. VOA

Hospitals in India are starting to tag newborns, mothers, and medics as well as installing extra security cameras and educating staff to spot baby thieves amid fears that baby trafficking is becoming an organized crime nationwide.

Officials said this was part of a drive starting at government hospitals in southern Tamil Nadu state to ensure nurses, doctors and visitors know of the threat of babies being stolen from maternity wards and babies being sold illegally for adoption that is baby trafficking.

At the Rajaji government hospital in Madurai, the first in Tamil Nadu to introduce the program, laser beams at exit points trigger alarms if untagged adults take babies out in order to curb baby trafficking.

“We just want to prevent the theft of babies,” N.K. Mahalakshmi, the doctor in charge of laser tagging at the hospital, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is not fool proof but a deterrent. … Our hospital staff has also been told to be extra vigilant.”

Traffickers, officials sometimes collude

Campaigners have raised concerns that traffickers are often colluding with officials to steal babies from maternity wards and illegally sell them for adoption which is baby trafficking.

Mumbai police arrested a gang for convincing single mothers to sell their babies last year, while in West Bengal police found newborns being stolen from mothers in medical clinics after staff told them that their babies were stillborn.

Dev Ananth, a child protection officer in Tirunelveli district, said the state government is investigating several cases where hospital staff persuaded mothers to sell their babies for about 10,000 Indian rupees ($156).

Tirunelveli district will put posters up in every hospital, alerting pregnant women, families, and staff to the dangers of baby trafficking in overcrowded corridors.

“Many don’t see it as a trafficking issue,” he said.

“We are going to train hospital staff to identify potential cases, including what to do if a baby is abandoned at birth. At present, the do’s and don’ts are not clear.”

No official data on baby trafficking

There is no official data on the number of babies stolen from hospitals in Tamil Nadu, but almost 180,000 children were born in government facilities in 2016, statistics show.

More than four out of 10 of human trafficking cases in India in 2015 involved children being bought, sold and exploited as modern-day slaves, according to crime figures.

“Public hospitals are vulnerable spaces where there are no effective ways to monitor access to newborn babies,” said Paul Sunder Singh of the children’s charity Karunalaya. (VOA)