Shri Maharaja Gulab Singh (SMGS) hospital has attained a dubious distinction of having registered over 2,500 deaths during the past three years.
Maharaja Hari Singh, who executed Instrument of Accession in 1947, handing control over Jammu and Kashmir to the Indian Union, laid the foundation of the hospital in 1940. It is one of the oldest healthcare units in the country.
The number of patients in 2009-10 was 15,171 which went up to 16,897.
The hospital witnessed 885 deaths in 2010-11 till March. A total of 16,456 patients were admitted in the hospital last year. Sources said over 450 deaths had been witnessed in the first seven months of this year and it was likely to cross the 800 mark by the year end.
Statistical figures revealed there were 746 deaths of children (634 neonatal intensive care unit and 112 post-neonatal) in the hospital in 2008-09. The data further revealed that 91 pregnant women died in the hospital during the past three years.
Of the total admission of 23,922, the hospital witnessed the death of 20 women in 2008-09, while 37 deaths of pregnant women were registered, out of total 24,684 admitted patients in the obstetrics and gynaecology departments of the hospital in 2009-10.
Last year, the hospital saw the death of 34 women and the number of admitted patients was 24,806. Sources said the quality of services had been affected by the shortage of workforce, as there were only 142 paramedical staff members against the sanctioned strength of 546.
"The quality of healthcare has been facing a major challenge due to shortage of staff, as over 400 posts of para-medical staff have been lying vacant.
"Though the number of doctors has gone down over the years, we have sufficient doctors to provide healthcare services. But the doctors can’t perform well in the absence of para-medical staff," said Dr Dara Singh, deputy superintendent of SMGS hospital.
He cited "referral system" as a major cause of the chaotic situation and favoured for a comprehensive "referral policy" to check death rate and prevent doctor-attendant clashes.
Medical education minister Rajinder Singh Chib admitted that there was no "firm policy" on referral system and the major city hospitals were overcrowded due to huge influx of patients from different districts of the state.