At the trauma centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), sweepers do what only trained medical staff are authorised to do. They stitch wounds of accident victims, and put casts. They even administer injections — which can be dangerous if given wrongly.
The Hindustan Times has found that at the state-of-the-art Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre of the top government-run hospital, doctors often take assistance from employees of Sulabh Shauchalaya, the agency responsible for keeping the centre clean. It found on several occasions these employees, dressed in blue uniform, attending to patients. And worse, they do it independently — without any doctor’s supervision. Authorities said the centre was facing an acute staff shortage.
A resident doctor, who did not want to be named, confirmed that Sulabh Shauchalaya employees often assist them. “They do not have any medical knowledge but a few of them — those who have shown interest — have been taught simple jobs like putting casts or stitching up small wounds,” he said. “This helps us save time and focus on more critical cases.”
The Hindustan Times spoke to one such “helper”. “I learnt from the doctors how to give injections and stitch wounds. May be I’ll go back to my village and start a dawakhana,” said Chander (identity withheld).
The trauma centre chief first said stitching wounds and giving injections were part of the job of Sulabh Shauchalaya employees. “They are ‘hospital attendants’ and it is their job to assist the doctors in whatever way possible,” said Dr MC Mishra. When told that hospital attendants were not allowed to administer injections or stitch wounds, he said it was a “baseless rumour” that sweepers were assisting the doctors.
He said the centre was facing an severe staff crunch. Of the sanctioned staff strength of 530, 190 posts were vacant, he added.