Lack of lab technicians in Madurai UPHCs

A lab technician, on request of anonymity, said the work of lab technicians and pharmacists in UPHCs is quite essential, but there has been a shortage of staff in both fields.
Nurses and lab technicians. For representational purpose (Photo | Nagaraja Gadekal)
Nurses and lab technicians. For representational purpose (Photo | Nagaraja Gadekal)

MADURAI: The lack of lab technicians at urban primary health centres (UPHCs) in Madurai city has made the lives of many employees hectic as they are forced to shuttle back and forth between two UPHCs.

A lab technician, on request of anonymity, said the work of lab technicians and pharmacists in UPHCs is quite essential, but there has been a shortage of staff in both fields. As of now, around four pharmacists and 18 lab technicians are required at the 31 UPHCs functioning in the city, the technician added.

Sources said, on certain occasions, when a pharmacist simultaneously works at two UPHCs and is unavailable at one, an uncertified person takes the responsibility of giving medicines to the patients, putting patients at risk of going home with the wrong medicines.

Stating that there are only 13 lab technicians on deputation duty to cater to the needs at all the UPHCs in the city, she said the issue has remained unresolved for the past one and half years despite reaching out to officials concerned multiple times. "We are forced to work in two UPHCs in a week. We have several other demands, including increasing our salaries from Rs 13,000 to Rs 20,000 and regularising our jobs. Though we were promised that our jobs would be regularised after two years from the joining date, it has not been done so far," she added.
 
Another lab technician, explaining their nature of work, said the employees are forced to tend to at least 50-60 patients at one UPHC on a daily basis, following which they have to carry out 200-300 tests, including blood tests, urine tests, Covid tests, HIV, pregnancy-related tests, and malaria tests. "Simultaneously working at two UPHCs is difficult for us, and because of this, we are not able to take even an emergency leave. Due to this, it is causing inconvenience to many patients, who could naturally raise complaints against bad service," she said.
 
One of the patients, who came for a blood test in one of the UPHCs said he had waited a long time for the lab technician and had to leave without taking the test after he was told the lab technician was not available at the time.
 
When TNIE reached out to city health officer Dr Vinothkumar, he informed, in an impudent manner, that he was not willing to comment on the issue.
 
Madurai corporation commissioner K J Praveen Kumar said this was the first time the issue has been brought to his knowledge as it has only been a month since he took charge. He also assured he would talk to officials concerned regarding the issue.

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