Health facilities in Pune: Infrastructure can be created, but what of medical staff?
The PMC had proposed to start a medical college named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee a decade ago, but not much progress was made till recentlyUpdated: Aug 07, 2020 18:41 IST
The neglect by authorities to set up medical and nursing colleges to cover the expanding city has left public healthcare facilities at a new low because of medical staff crunch. And an epidemic like coronavirus has complicated the problem even further.
While Pune district saw scores of engineering colleges built over the years, only six medical colleges, including the most recent Baramati college, and a few nursing institutes, mostly private, were set up during the period. And the lack of planning by authorities caused shortage of doctors, nurses and paramedical staff.
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had proposed to start a medical college named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee a decade ago, but not much progress was made till recently when the plan got the nod from the state government.
More than doctors, there has been a huge shortage of nurses across the city. According to Jibin TC, president, United Nurses Association, the administration was alerted about manpower shortfall in advance, but no step was taken.
“Contract nurses are often given inhumane working hours wherein they have to attend to 5-6 ICU patients when the protocol states that one ICU patient must get one dedicated nurse. They are not given leaves and now we are seeing that nurses at private hospitals are not paid their dues on time. The jumbo facilities in many places across Mumbai are lying vacant because they do not have staff and PMC is also doing the same thing. They can buy the best machines and occupy all hotels or hospitals, but from where will they get the staff?” said Jibin.
Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president, Indian Medical Association said, “The government’s policy to not build enough hospitals over the years has led to this situation. While engineering colleges sprawled especially in Pune, there are hardly any medical colleges. Even during the swine flu pandemic, many promises were made but nothing happened. The government’s policy now to offer more money to hire more staff is only leading to poaching from private hospitals who are feeling the pinch now.”
PMC’s long-pending proposal to build its own medical college at Naidu hospital has recently got approval for the state which has asked the civic body to form a medical trust. A proposal which was only on paper for years got its much-needed approval only when the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Over the years, the city has had only 8 medical colleges and a few nursing schools which are mostly owned by private entities.
Former Pune district collector Naval Kishore Ram had said that the administration is recruiting staff from private hospitals on contract, from rural areas and also from nearby districts. The senior official said that contractors or third parties have been appointed to set up jumbo facilities and they will be responsible to recruit staff.”