As the countdown for the assembly elections scheduled in April-May in 2016 in Bengal begins, the Mamata Banerjee government is all set to showcase its much-publicised 40 super specialist hospitals that are coming up in the districts, West Midnapore, East Midnapore, Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum, Jalpaiguri, South 24-Parganas and North 24-Parganas, during poll campaigns.
Keeping eyes on the elections, the health department has decided to recruit 4,000 doctors, 5,000 nurses and 1,000 technicians by the end of February for these super specialist hospitals.
Sources in the health department said that they would publish advertisements in newspapers inviting candidates for these posts.
“The recruitment will be done on a permanent service. Doctors will be recruited as general duty medical officers (GDMOs). A GDMO will get around Rs 50,000 a month while it is around Rs 25,000 for a nurse,” a senior official in the health department said.
The chief minister often said in public meetings that her government is setting up 40 superspecialist hospitals (she also call these multi-super) across the state. What it entails is the construction of five to 10-storey buildings in the premises of the existing district and sub divisional hospitals and offer healthcare facilities in super speciality departments such as cardiology, nephrology, urology, endocrinology etc.
But the official has raised questions saying, “How will it be possible for us to provide so many doctors and nurses in such a short period of hardly three months. Every year we produce about 2,300 doctors in the 13 state-run and three private medical colleges in Bengal.”
“The state healthcare system will collapse following the government’s policy. How will the government provide so many doctors and nursing staff to the super specialist hospitals at a time when the existing 27 district hospitals, 37 sub-divisional hospitals, 110 rural hospitals, 350 block primary health centres and around 900 primary health centres across the state are running out of adequate number of doctors and other staff,” said Dr Satyajit Chakraborty, secretary of CPI(M)-backed Association of Health Service Doctors (AHSD).
All these super specialist hospitals will accommodate 500 beds each. But as these buildings are getting completed, the health department is asking the district administration to shift the existing departments to the new buildings without setting up of the speciality departments as well lifesaving arrangements like oxygen pipelines.
The reason: Acute shortage of doctors and nurses required for these hospitals. The project conceived after the Trinamool came to power in 2011 is funded mostly by the Centre’s backward region grant fund (BRGF).
But the health department has recently asked administrations in some of these districts directing to shift several existing departments like general medicine, surgery, ENT, skin, paediatric medicine, orthopaedic, ophthalmology etc to the new buildings for super specialist hospitals.
“Setting up of the super specialist hospitals was mooted in order to upgrade several existing departments in the district and sub-divisional hospitals in the backward districts. For instance, departments like general medicine, ENT, skin, surgery etc will be upgraded and shifted to the new buildings,” said an official in the health department.
Following the directives of the health department West Midnapore district health administration has decided to shift most of the existing departments of the Jhargram sub-divisional hospital to the five-storied super specialist hospital building under construction.