District hospitals in Karnataka short of 4,500 doctors, staff; State helpless - The New Indian Express

District hospitals in Karnataka short of 4,500 doctors, staff; State helpless

Published: 03rd September 2013 08:12 AM

Last Updated: 03rd September 2013 10:59 AM

There is a shortage of 4,500 doctors and paramedical staff in the 18 district hospitals run by the Department of Health and Family Welfare. And the department sees no way of filling these vacancies, unless the Bill seeking mandatory rural posting for medical graduate and postgraduate students is passed. 

Even as members of the ‘Save the Doctor’ campaign are quibbling over whether the rural posting should be done in the graduate or postgraduate level, the state government has expressed helplessness in an affidavit to the Karnataka High Court. The court had directed the government to provide sufficient doctors and specialists in all the 30 district hospitals in the state. Twelve of these hospitals are under the administration of the Medical Education Department as they are attached to colleges.

M Madan Gopal, principal secretary to the Department of Health and Family Welfare,  submitted that “the 18 district hospitals controlled by the Department of Health and Family Welfare do not have the manpower requirements in terms of doctors and specialists and paramedical staff, as per the guidelines of the Indian Public Health Standards. There is a requirement for 250 medical and paramedical staff in each of the hospitals. To fill these posts, the budget requirement to get specialists to work in our hospitals would be in the order of approximately Rs 122 crore per annum,” he stated.

Separate petitions have been filed by doctors working in district hospitals in North Karnataka seeking transfers to Bangalore or Mysore. They cite reasons of family, better education prospects for children, the climate and so on.

Gopal submitted in the affidavit that “the government is unable to fill up the existing vacancies in the hospitals,  especially doctors and specialists. In spite of offering reasonably high salaries and other allowances, the specialists are not willing to work in government hospitals in the districts.”

Gopal pointed out that the state has initiated The Karnataka Compulsory Service Training by Candidates Completed Medical Courses Bill, 2012, under which the medical graduate and postgraduate doctors are required to compulsorily serve in a government hospital for a minimum of one year. But the Bill is still pending before the President for approval. Once it is approved, the shortage of specialists and doctors will be addressed to the full extent.

The state government states that it needs another three years to fill these vacancies in the district hospitals.

The affidavit has been filed in connection with a PIL on the pathetic condition of the Gulbarga District General Hospital, though the district is represented by Railway Minister Mallikarjun Khar­ge in Lok Sabha. It was said the staff are not providing food to patients because they did not want to clean the floor after the patients ate. “Due to the lack of medical care, many patients have died in the hospital,” petitioner Sharan Desai had said.

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