Docs’ shortage hits patient care at SMHS

Adil Lateef
SRINAGAR, Aug 20: Shortage of doctors at SMHS hospital in Srinagar is severally affecting patient care and depleting the skewed doctor-patient ratio.
The Emergency department of SMHS, which receives hundreds of cases at average in single day, is presenting grim picture as only handful of doctors are available for handling these cases. Given the number of cases, the ratio of doctors is less, officials admitted.
Due to shortage of medicos for last many years, not only patients who come from all over Kashmir to the SMHS hospital, suffer but doctors on duty also face serious problems due to overburdening. A resident doctor told Excelsior that almost all junior resident posts are vacant in SMHS hospital and there is also no additional staff for Emergency department that could fulfill requirements.
The situation at Emergency department of the SMHS hospital often worsens after evening when sometimes there are only two doctors for dozens of patients including those who are critical. The doctors admitted that in absence of triage, the patients deserving more attention often get neglected and that sometimes result in deaths also.
Besides shortage of doctors, the less experienced doctors in critical Emergency unit of SMHS is also affecting patient care. Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) president, Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan said the senior faculty of the SMHS should be present in Emergency unit and guide junior doctors but the former “hardly remain” there.
“There are clear cut guidelines that senior faculty of the hospital should remain available at Emergency units because these units receive critical patients and any negligence or delay could result in death of the patient. It’s very important, particularly SMHS which is primary tertiary care hospital, to have senior faculty present with junior doctors so that the patients are taken care well but the case here is otherwise,” he said.
Dr Nisar blamed private practice for absence of senior faculty in casualty unit of SMHS and said only ban on the practice would “change situation”. “Unfortunately, our senior doctors in present time give more attention to the private practice rather than to patients in hospitals. This private practice menace should be banned once for all and we have been demanding this from years now,” the president added.
An attendant, who was accompanying a patient at casualty ward of the SMHS, said such is the rush at evenings that they had to wait for a doctor for around 20 minutes. “There were so many patients and each one of them was more sick and deserved attention but there were only two doctors who were trying to attend as many as patients,” he said.
Medical Superintendent (MS) of SMHS Hospital, Dr Nazir Chowdhary said indeed there is shortage of doctors. “This is why five more Medical Colleges and two All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) are coming,” he said, adding that as of now the doctors work as per the rooster in Emergency unit of the SMHS to treat patients.
Sources said the low pay scale for junior doctors at SMHS is also a reason for shortage of staff. “The pay in Government Medical College (GMC) for junior doctor is just Rs. 19,000 as against Rs. 40,000 in Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) and 60-70,000 in Delhi,” they said.


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