More than half of blood banks in the city, which are suffering from severe staff crunch, are violating norms, revealed a response to an RTI query.
Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) of Maharashtra earlier this year shut down five blood banks in the city owing to shortage of technical staff, bringing the total number to 59. FDA, in response to the RTI query, revealed that 29 of them are functioning with two or one Blood Transfusion Officers (BTO) while the norms say three BTOs have to be posted at a blood bank to provide 24X7 services.
The situation is worse at the state level as across six regions: Amravati, Konkan, Thane, Pune, Nashik and Nagpur, where 78% (203 out of 260) of blood banks have only two or one BTO running them.
FDA norms state that a dedicated pathologist, as a BTO, has to be present to sign reports of histopathology, check collecting and transfusing blood and other components like plasma and red blood cells, cross check the blood grouping and guide technicians to avoid fatal mistakes. To ensure the smooth functioning of the blood bank, at least three pathologists need to be employed to work in eight hour shifts according to FDA.
Chetan Kothari, who compiled this data, said it’s a case of meagre salaries. “The criterion for hiring a BTO is MD degree in transfusion medicine. The course is offered by only two institutes: KEM and Tata Hospitals, that have two seats every year. Doctors are not interested in the profession due to night shifts and it being a non-glorified job,” he said.
A BTO from a city private blood bank said hospitals hire less staff to save on salaries. “At minimal, one specialist charges around Rs3-5 lakh per year and that’s why they hire just two. Eventually, a BTO ends up signing blank reports and technicians fill up the details and give the reports,” said the BTO.