NEW DELHI:Last week Chaitanya Pranav, a Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) beneficiary, took his father to the Safdarjung Hospital. After standing in a serpentine queue in sweltering heat for over two hours, and seeing his father’s discomfort, Pranav decided to opt for a private CGHS panel even though their high fees are to be paid on the spot.
Not very long ago, freelance filmmaker Anand Bhaskar, who was electrocuted, could not be saved when he was rushed to Safdarjung Hospital, after he failed to get space at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
Delhi’s premier referral hospital Safdurjung handles thousands of emergency cases daily, but the problem is compounded by lack of doctors and proper infrastructure. Safdarjung hospital is not alone. Slow pace of redevelopment works, delay in implementation of expansion works and persistent existence of vacancies of doctors has hit health care in all the Central government hospitals, be it AIIMS, RML hospital or Sucheta Kriplani Hospital.
Persistent vacancies of doctor not only causes undue strain on the existing staff, it also impairs delivery of quality healthcare. Apart from doctors, there are vacancies in supporting staff as well in these hospitals.
Out of the 1,366 sanctioned posts of doctors in Safdarjung, RML and Sucheta Kriplani hospitals, 278 posts are vacant. As far as AIIMS is concerned, there are 61 posts of professors, 10 posts of additional professors, 144 posts of Assistant professors and two posts Lecture in Nursing that are vacant. Similarly, eight posts of senior resident academics, 50 posts of junior resident academics, 86 posts of senior resident non-academics and 20 posts of junior resident non-academics are also vacant.
While the setting up of In Vitro Fertilization clinic at Safdarjung Hospital is still hanging fire, inadequacy of plan funds for AIIMS may prove to be a big factor in limiting the progress in executing important initiatives like National Cancer Institute, Jhajjar, and the new OPD Block at Masjid Moth. Expansion of OPD Block at AIIMS had been planned at the estimated cost of Rs 573.00 crore out of which just Rs 4.02 crore have been spent.
Keeping in view the increased patient load and the inadequate infrastructure, the government had sanctioned redevelopment plans for these hospitals. However, the Parliamentary standing committee on Health and Family Welfare, which examined the demands for grants (2015-16), observed that the implementation of redevelopment plans for the Central Government Hospitals is slow. However, the Ministry officials maintained that work is in progress though there were some delays.
The Union Cabinet, in June 2014, approved the redevelopment plan of Safdarjung Hospital at an estimated cost of Rs 1,333 crore, inclusive of Rs 165 crore towards expenses on operations, for the first year. The plan’s implementation has been slow.
As far as vacancies are concerned, in Group A (doctors) category, out of 390 sanctioned posts, 62 posts are vacant in Safdarjung Hospital. However, the Health Ministry says UPSC is being closely followed on regular basis to fill up the vacant posts, and contractual appointments are being made to meet immediate requirements of patient care.
The standing committee was astonished to note that out of sanctioned strength of 54 in Group A (non-doctors) only 8 are in position and as many as 46 posts are vacant. Similarly, there exists huge number of vacancies in various categories.
Under the redevelopment plan of RML hospital, though the New Emergency Care Building (NECB) and Dharmshala have been completed, they are yet to be fully functional. The construction of the Super Specialty Block has hit a hurdle. Despite the efforts of UPSC, 62 posts of doctors are vacant out of sanctioned 304 posts.
The redevelopment plan of Lady Hardinge Medical college and its associate hospitals was to be completed by June 2014. The standing committee observed that implementation of the redevelopment plan and monitoring mechanism is slack. Out of 307 sanctioned posts of doctors, 79 are vacant.
AIIMS has been allocatedRs 550 crore for 2015-16 against its projected demand of Rs 2,325.50 crore. The projection included Rs 300 crore for National Cancer Institute, Jhajjar, and Rs 120 crore for OPD Block at Masjid Moth, Rs 50 crore for Paid Ward and Rs 60 crore for acquisition of land. The standing committee observed the huge mismatch between AIIMS’s projected demand of Rs 2,325 crore and allocation of Rs 550 crore. On the vacancies, Ministry officials said filling up of the posts was in action.