Bihar’s best medical college fights absenteeism amid bid to turn it world class

  • There is no ban on government doctors’ private practice in Bihar. As such, some doctors allegedly abstain from duty to attend to their private clinics or work as consultants in private healthcare facilities in return for handsome remuneration.
PMCH is Bihar's oldest medical college and hospital.(HT photo)
PMCH is Bihar's oldest medical college and hospital.(HT photo)
Published on Feb 11, 2021 09:09 AM IST
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ByRuchir Kumar | Edited by Abhinav Sahay, Patna

The Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) administration is firm on checking absenteeism of doctors, a big challenge in realisation of chief minister Nitish Kumar’s ambition of turning the hospital into a world class facility, said authorities. On Monday, Kumar laid the foundation stone for renovation of Bihar’s oldest medical college from a 1,754-bed unit into a 5462-bed facility.

The project, at an estimated cost of 5,540 crore, will likely catapult the PMCH into the country’s largest hospital and the second largest in the world, next only to a Taiwanese health facility in terms of in-patient beds after it’s completion in seven years. Kumar has appealed to L&T, the firm executing the project, to complete it in five years instead.

With the state government’s push for improved health infrastructure, in sync with the 137% increase in the Centre's health budget, absenteeism of government doctors in state-run medical colleges and hospitals remains the biggest challenge for the authorities.

“I am aware of the work culture of our doctors. Ever since I joined (as superintendent), I have been able to check absenteeism of doctors to a large extent. Almost 90% of doctors have fallen in line. Just 10% remaining doctors now have to mend their ways,” said Dr IS Thakur, who took charge as the superintendent of the PMCH on February 1.

There is no ban on government doctors’ private practice in Bihar. As such, some doctors allegedly abstain from duty to attend to their private clinics or work as consultants in private healthcare facilities in return for handsome remuneration, said an official.

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a spanner in the state government’s effort to check absenteeism and prevent doctors from bunking duty since the biometric system of attendance, put in place by the Medical Council of India (MCI), has been suspended.

The system of scanning iris for attendance has yet not become operational though cameras have been installed at some departments of the PMCH a couple of months back.

While the health department is struggling to put in place the iris-scan biometric system at the oldest and most reputed medical college in Bihar, AIIMS-Patna has been using it for the last six months.

Efforts to reach PMCH principal Dr Vidyapati Chaudhary didn’t succeed as he did not respond to phone calls or text messages.

“Before taking any administrative action, I have, for now, requested all our doctors to be punctual and take their duty seriously. I personally make rounds of outdoor patient departments (OPD), wards and the emergency department. This has significantly reduced absenteeism and instances of doctors abstaining from duty,” said Dr Thakur.

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“The OPD registration begins at 8am. Junior doctors are supposed to be at their workplace by 8.30am and I expect senior doctors to join them at the OPD by 9am. All doctors on OPD duty have to stay back till whatever time it takes to attend to patients registered till 1.30pm,” he added.

Dr Thakur, however, admitted that he was yet to ensure evening rounds of in-patient wards by senior doctors.

“There is a government order, which says that senior doctors have to take evening rounds of wards. At present, this is being done by postgraduate medicos. I have requested senior doctors to do it. Give me some time to ensure that,” said the superintendent.

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Sunday, December 05, 2021