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Infighting takes sheen off Delhi’s premier hospital

delhi Updated: May 02, 2012 00:09 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Hindustan Times
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Intra-departmental infighting has led the head of the department of gynaecology Dr Suneeta Mittal to quit the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Monday. She quit after AIIMS director R.C. Deka did not act against her written complaints against her colleague and the director's wife, senior professor Dr Deepika Deka.

Ten senior doctors have quit AIIMS in as many months.

In her letters, Dr Mittal said Dr Deepika Deka was fudging her leave records and misusing her position as the director's wife and sought an inquiry into the matter.

When no action was taken, Dr Mittal wrote to Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is chairman of the governing body at AIIMS (Copies of all the letters are with HT).

Mittal had written to Azad on April 11, 2012 about Dr (Mrs) Deka's illegal leaves and undue favours granted to her by the director himself in his capacity of administrative head in "promoting, nominating, permitting and approving the involvement of his wife, Dr Deepika Deka, in matters of government functioning, including examination processes, foreign travels and delegations, high-level committee constitution, meetings of repute with visiting international faculty and the kind."

Dr Mittal also sought the intervention of Vineet Choudhury, the deputy director-administration (DDA) and vigilance officer, on April 12, 2012 when she, her secretary and staff were "threatened" by Dr (Mrs) Deka.

Dr (Mrs) Deka denied all allegations. "There is no inquiry, my leave sanctioned by the administration is absolutely within limits. I have taken only 36 leaves of my sanctioned 42," she said.

"The health minister and DDA found nothing against me. This is to malign me, because the higher you go, the more people are after you," she said.

Earlier, this month, Dr Supriyo Ghosh quit after a tiff with AIIMS director Dr Deka who after receiving complaints from the ophthalmology department had written to the health minister, seeking Dr Ghosh's removal from the post of headship on grounds of "non-performance."

Dr Ghosh was due to retire in June this year.

Dr Shefali Sharma from the department of medicine at the trauma wing resigned to join PGI Chandigarh as an associate professor, after her elevation was stalled citing non-performance. Last year, the medicine department had to be trifurcated because of growing tensions within the senior faculty.

Sections of the faculty blame the wars at AIIMS to fixed headship tenures.

"Starting from AIIMS faculty referendum to Valiathan committee, cabinet committee, academic committee and 7-8 other committees have recommended for immediate change to rotating headship," said a faculty member on condition of anonymity. "This was also discussed in the governing body meeting held on January 16, 2012 and was approved in principle but has not being implemented," he said.

"Ego fights and inter-departmental tussles are not new to AIIMS. But they are surfacing too much in the public domain, which is not good," said a former director, requesting anonymity.