Bangalore, September 24: Chinnamma (55) admitted 15 days ago for surgery at the State-run Victoria Hospital is upset. Her doctor, who had twice postponed her surgery for removal of multiple gall stones, informed her that it could not be done this week too. The reason this time was due the “shortage of doctors.”
This case is not an isolated one. Postponement of surgeries has been a regular affair at the Victoria Hospital, thanks to shortage of doctors, especially anaesthetists. Besides, visits by VIPs have hit patients even more as doctors have to be posted for VIP duty.
Whenever a VIP comes to the city, a team of four doctors (surgeon, physician, orthopaedic surgeon and an anaesthetist) along with three paramedical staff and an ambulance with a driver and a Group ‘D’ employee have to be posted for every shift. The severity of the shortage of doctors depends on the duration of the VIP’s stay. On an average, there are at least three visits to the State every month.
President Pranab Mukherjee’s visit has added to the shortage. Patients are likely to face hardship for the next two days till the President leaves. With a team already deputed for VIP duty on Monday, Victoria Hospital’s out-patient department was crowded even at 12.30 pm.
That is not all. Even students in Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute (BMCRI), under which Victoria Hospital falls, have to go without classes during VIP visits. This is because those deputed are senior faculty members. “How can we expect these students to become good doctors when we are regularly forced to give the classes a go by,” a senior consultant at the hospital said.
Another doctor pointed out that the Surgery and Medicine departments were the worst affected. On Monday, at least 12 patients including a few with dengue symptoms left the OPD after waiting in vain for consultation. “Of the 40 sanctioned posts in the Medicine department, only 21 are on rolls. Of these, while some are on leave others are on VIP duty. How can a few doctors handle the rush?” the doctor said.
On December 13, 2008, when Vice-President Hamid Ansari was on a visit to Bangalore, The Hindu reported how patient services were affected by VIP visits.
Reacting to this, Mr. Ansari sent back the doctors posted for his duty and advised the State government to set up a VIP squad exclusively for protocol duty. Six years later, the government is yet to act on his advice.
Victoria Hospital Medical Superintendent Ravi Prakash said a proposal to recruit additional doctors was awaiting government clearance. “We are bound to depute doctors, as per rules, for every VIP visit. But this does not affect services,” he claimed.
When his attention was drawn to surgeries being put off due to shortage, he said: “All put together there are nearly 75 operating tables in the four hospitals affiliated to BMCRI (Victoria, Bowring, Vani Vilas and Minto). Each table requires one anaesthetist. How is it possible to cater to all surgeries when there is a high demand for anaesthetists in the private sector,” he added.