Delhi govt offers incentives to hire intensive care specialists
The suggestions have been put up to the Delhi cabinet and will be sent to the lieutenant governor for approval, the officials saidUpdated: Jul 02, 2020 03:51 IST
The Delhi government is considering to offer a host of incentives such as bonuses, health insurance for the entire family, and commendations to draw trained medical professionals to staff the intensive care units in government hospitals, officials familiar with the development said.
The suggestions have been put up to the Delhi cabinet and will be sent to the lieutenant governor for approval, the officials said. The development comes close on the heels of the Centre giving an additional 575 ventilators to the Delhi government. Delhi already has 789 ventilator beds in its Covid-19 facilities but it is short of specialists to provide care to such patients.
“The intensive care unit is not about just getting a bed and putting on a machine, adequate number of doctors and nurses are needed to continuously monitor the patients. There is a shortage of trained staff and even though the hospitals have advertised the posts, nobody is really willing to join. Why should they? The salary is the same, there is no additional incentive, and they have to work with corona-affected patients in challenging circumstances. This is the reason why the government is looking at various measures to address the shortage,” said an official from Delhi’s health department, on condition of anonymity.
The shortage of trained staff was one of the major reasons for delays in scaling-up ICU facilities in Delhi government hospitals, as per the health minister-level discussions held two weeks ago. With over 70% of ICU beds earmarked for treating Covid-19 patients in the city – in both government and private hospitals – already occupied, the Delhi government is working on augmenting facilities in its hospitals.
Currently, there are 1,693 ICU beds in the city, of which 789 have ventilators, according to the Delhi Corona App. Of these, 197 ventilators are in three Delhi government-run hospitals and 185 in Central government-run hospitals.
According to estimates given by Covid-19 hospitals, one nursing staff is needed for each ventilator bed and one doctor for every four hours.
The government had decided to recruit final year students of MD/MS/ DNB (post-graduate medical courses) and final year student of undergraduate and postgraduate nursing courses to staff the hospitals, in the health minister-level discussions held two weeks ago. In addition, Dr Mahesh Verma, vice chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, who had been tasked by the government to help solve the manpower issue, has also suggested hiring Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy (AYUSH) practitioners and dentists, who can work in the non-critical areas of the hospitals, freeing up trained staff for the critical operations. All the special hiring will be for a period of six months that can be extended up to a year, it was suggested in the discussions.
The government had hired 700 nurses through the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board, according to another government official.
“There is a need to hire specialists – intensivists and anaesthetists – who can staff the ICUs in the hospitals. To ensure that the well-qualified MD/MS/ and DNB students are able to work at the hospitals as senior resident, IP University has expedited the final exams and I have asked the Delhi University to also do so. The students will not have to wait for the results of the examination and will qualify for the posts of resident doctors on submission of a certificate of having given the exam from their colleges,” said Dr Verma.
Lok Nayak hospital, which has received 175 of the 575 ventilators given by the Centre on Tuesday, is yet to operationalise most of the machines, according to doctors from the hospital. The hospital plans to increase its ICU beds to 500 – of these, 100 ventilator beds are already working, 140 more will be added in the surgical block and 60 in the emergency block by next week. Another 48 ICU beds will be set up in the operation theatre (OT) complex of the hospital and 116 in the medical block, as per the hospital’s plans.