Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College’s maladies: Meagre budget, vacant posts
Following the recent tragedy at Gorakhpur’s BRD Medical College, HT does a reality check of what ails medical colleges and their associated hospitals in Uttar Pradesh. In the latest part, we highlight how Meerut’s Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College copes with the challenge of treating 2,500 to 3,000 patients with limited facilities.lucknow Updated: Sep 08, 2017 16:16 IST
Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial (LLRM) Medical College was set up in 1966 to cater to the healthcare needs of the people of western Uttar Pradesh.
Since Uttarakhand was carved out only in 1988, many of its districts were also a part of the region at that time.
Despite serving patients from far and wide, the hospital, with limited facilities on hand, soon found a place among the top 10 colleges of the country.
In fact, such was the credibility of the hospital and its founder principal Dr KG Tyagi that hordes of VIPs came come here for treatment.
A private ward was specially set up to cater to such VIP patients, .
“Getting admission in LLRM Medical College was a great honour and many of its alumni had made great contribution in nurturing country`s health and medical education,” claimed Dr Harivansh Chopra, a 1975 batch student and presently a professor in community medicine (SPM) department of the college.
Rise of private sector in health
Chopra, who joined the college as faculty in 1985, recalled that there were no private hospitals and nursing homes at that time, making the LLRM hospital the only refuge for the patients of the region.
“Private ward set up here was much sought after ,” he said while recalling that one Heeralal Nursing Home in the city was the only private hospital till the end of 80s.
Thereafter, a boom was witnessed in health sector and many private nursing homes and hospitals were set up in the next two decades.
These hospitals procured latest machines and equipment and offered attractive health services at reasonable price and soon became the first choice for those who could afford them.
Interestingly, while private sector flourished like anything, the policy makers for government sector made no plan to meet future challenges.
“The facilities and budget allotted to hospital has never been increased in proportion to the increased load of patients in past five decades. The hospital still caters to patients from districts such as Meerut, Saharanpur, Moradabad and even from Uttarakhand but various departments are still running on services of contractual faculties and employees. In fact, even the nursing staff is outsourced,” said Dr Sachin Kumar, medical superintendent of the hospital.
Vacant posts worsen things
While the staff keeps retiring, regular appointments are seldom held to fill the vacant post.
There were 140 faculties in the college in 1985 which plummeted to mere 40 faculties in 2002 but the government woke up to fill the vacancies four years later in 2006.
Currently, the college has 22 departments in which 45 faculties are giving services on contractual basis.
Forty posts of class three employees which include X-Ray technician, OT and dialysis handlers are lying vacant since years.
Shortage of nursing staff and class 4 staff have been temporarily resolved by hiring 183 nurses and 195 employees respectively through outsourcing.
Senior faculties blame it on failure on the part of planning for the present condition.
They say that privatization of medical colleges has aggravated the problem further because after spending hefty amount on their education in private colleges, nobody likes to join a government medical college and hospital at a much lower salary.
Interestingly, the government has banned private practice for regular faculties but faculties on contract have been exempted.
In its bid to improve the quality of faculties of medical colleges, government had passed an order allowing them to attend two national conferences in a year and one international conference but the budget for it was never allotted. Even if some one dares to attend them at his own expense, he has to apply six months in advance to seek permission which is seldom given in time.
It takes months to clear bills
Like in the case of Gorakhpur’s BRD College, the bills of suppliers here are not cleared on time.
“The delays are always there but suppliers understand and do not threaten to stop the supplies of medicine, equipment, oxygen and other items,” said a doctor.
“Getting government approval is a lengthy process and we have a clear understanding with suppliers that payment will be cleared only when the budget is released,” said Dr Sachin.
However, many believe that the so called understanding eventually only leads to corruption.
“Suppliers are businessmen who will give favour only for benefits. Such practices must stop as they can lead to Gorakhpur like disasters in future,” warned a retired employee.
Paucity of budget
For a hospital with a capacity of 1060 beds, the annual budget for medicine is Rs 3.5 crore, which the medical college administration says is too little in view of the heavy inflow of patients —around 2,500 to 3,000 every day.
“Allocation of budget per bed is even less than the budget of district hospitals despite the fact that we cater to a much larger area in comparison to them,” said Dr Sachin, medical superintendent.
He claimed that while Rs 3.5 crore is the allocated budget, the hospital has been spending Rs 5.32 crore on medicines for last two years.
“Even an annual budget of Rs 20 crore would be insufficient for providing hassle-free good health services and medical education here,” said Dr Keerti Dubey, principal, LLRM Medical College, while urging the government to consider its long pending demand.
New trauma centre
A 20-bed new trauma centre has come up on college premises recently. It has an ultra sound machine, an operation theatre (OT), a trauma ward and a trauma ICU with 16 ventilators with 6 bed post operation care ward.
Besides, CT and MRI machines were installed in June last year and 4 lecture theatres, library and 10 OTs are also under construction. Also, an 80-bed super specialty block under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Yojna is being constructed which is expected to be completed by next year.
More than new building, the hospital needs quality faculties, doctors, nursing staff and effective execution of right policies, said Dr Chopra.