HYDERABAD: Many in the public healthcare service observe that while there was a shortage of medical resources, namely medical oxygen, in the second wave of Covid-19, there will be a shortage of human resources in the third wave. Even as the Supreme Court allowed the resumption of the NEET-PG medical counselling process on Friday, it’s likely to take a month or two for the first-year PG students to join. This would mean that the State is likely to tackle the third wave with only 2,400 junior doctors instead of the 3,600-4,000 mandated strength.
“It is going to be a big crisis as a handful of doctors will have to deal with an avalanche of cases. For instance, in Gandhi Hospital, there should be 600 junior doctors at any given point, but there are 350-400 currently to handle caseloads,” said a T-JUDA office bearer.
The burden will specifically be more pronounced for some departments like anaesthesia, general medicine, pulmonology, the key specialisations handling the Covid-19 ICU and oxygen wards. “In Kakatiya Medical College’s (KMC) (in Warangal) medicine department, there should be 66 PG doctors ideally, but currently only 20 doctors are managing the operations. This is because the first-year batch has not come in and the second-year batch has gone for peripheral postings to NIMS and Osmania General Hospital (in Hyderabad). Only third-year doctors are left, who also have to deal with their finals in the coming two months,” explained a junior doctor on condition of anonymity.
Poor patient to doctor ratio
What this implies is that the patient to doctor ratio has skyrocketed to 1 doctor for 300 cases in the outpatient (OP) department and 1 for 100 cases in emergency wards. “If the cases rise in the coming week, the situation will become worse as a handful of doctors will man the OP and the wards, and they will have to work for days together without a break,” added the junior doctor. With such a poor doctor to patient ratio, concerns of falling standards of medical care and incidents of violence against doctors are also on the rise. The concern is also for the fact that doctors who are yet to receive the ‘precaution dose’ might themselves test positive.
“During the second wave, we hardly got to be isolated for 10 days and sometimes, we were asked to come back to work within a week of getting infected. It will get worse now, adding mental and physical stress,” the doctor mentioned.
The only solution remains that unless the Health Department puts in strict criteria for ‘triaging’, the tertiary care medical colleges will deal with the bulk of cases. “If the PHCs and district hospitals take mild to moderate cases, we can focus singularly on severe cases,” added the PG doctor.