All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), India's best medical college and hospital that treats over 10,000 patients every day, is short of 200 doctors and is running on two-thirds of its sanctioned strength of 600 doctors across 50 departments.
Not only are the best brains not applying for work at the premier institute, even the ones who remain are leaving AIIMS for more money in private hospitals in India and overseas. Seven doctors — four department heads and three senior doctors — have quit AIIMS over the past 10 months.
The newest to resign is Dr Supriyo Ghosh, head of department of ophthalmology, who took 'voluntary retirement' after what sources say was a bitter war with AIIMS director Dr RC Deka and the health ministry.
"He wasn't being able to run the department very well due to his poor health. Especially after he suffered a stroke a few years ago, he almost stopped coming to the hospital. He also had problems walking," said a doctor.
Dr HH Dash, presently the head of neuro-anesthesia and hostel superintendent at AIIMS, has also put in his papers. "I have served the hospital for over 30 years. I am leaving for personal reasons. Nothing against the institute," he said.
Dr Rani A. Sundar, assistant professor anesthesiology, Dr John Ranjan Behara, assistant professor from orthopaedics, and Manish Sharma, assistant professor in neurosurgery, resigned in protest earlier this year after they were termed unfit for promotion by the AIIMS selection committee.
Dr Arvind Kumar, head of surgery, quit in February to start a robotic surgery institute at Sir Gangaram Hospital. "I was just beginning to feel that my potential was not being completely exploited. I was given the robot only once week, as a result of which I just did 68 surgeries in four years. Here I have done 11 cases in 30 days," he said.
Two associate professor level doctors - Dr Vinay Gulati from the department of medicine and Dr C. Venkata Kartikeyan from ENT, who were on foreign fellowships, also resigned soon after returning last year.
Dr AK Hemal, head of urology who was on extraordinary leave in the US since 2007, and Dr Sandeep Guleria, professor and multi-organ transplant specialist, quit last year to join Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.