After remaining shut for close to six months for refurbishing, the operation theatre (OT) of the Ear-Nose-Throat (ENT) department at Safdarjung Hospital opened on Wednesday without one of the most basic requirements - OT lights.
"Can a surgeon operate without specialised OT lights? This can only happen in an Indian set-up," said a senior doctor in the ENT department. "We did five surgeries using regular room lights on Wednesday and postponed critical surgeries for Thursday, but even today the situation was the same," he said.
Doctors are also unhappy about the ENT and neurosurgery surgery OTs being shifted to the first floor.
"Lack of space on the first floor has forced the administration to use one OT table instead of two. Now, we can conduct only half the number of surgeries compared to last year," he said. Surgeons also complain that they have little space on this floor for patients' post-operative care. The patients are the worst hit. "There is a four-five month waiting period for surgery. This apathy is adding to the current backlog of patients," said another doctor.
"Safdarjung Hospital receives patients from all over the country. So, we have to face the brunt of patients' anger when they are told their surgery has been cancelled after they've travelled all the way to Delhi on a given date," said a resident doctor, unwilling to be named.
"This is the third time that doctors have given me a date for my wife's ear surgery this year. I lose more than Rs 2,000 in travel alone," said Bulandshahr-resident Ram Bahadur Singh, 56, whose wife Dulaari, 42, needs surgery for a growth in her ear.
This is not the first time ENT OTs have been renovated in a shoddy way.
Surgeons say the OT's were shut even last year for almost four months.
"Why isn't the administration pulling up people responsible for the poor renovation? Several complaints to the senior administration have gone unanswered," said a doctor.
"There will be teething problems in a renewed set-up. They will be resolved at the earliest," responded a senior administrative official.