Staff crunch ails govt-run psychiatric hosp in Pune’s Yerawada
India’s largest hospital for psychiatric treatment, the government-run Regional Mental Hospital at Yerawada, Pune, is facing acute staff shortage which is affecting patients with serious mental illness.
According to Dr Abhijit Phadnis, medical superintendent of the hospital, the hospital that houses at least 1,260 patients, have only two psychiatrists on duty and 11 vacancies.
The authorities of he government-run Regional Mental Hospital have asked the Maharashtra government to approve 20 additional positions of psychiatrists.
Dr Phadnis said, “The requisition for filling vacancies was sent to the state government last month and this is being followed up with daily reminders. The issue has, however, not progressed satisfactorily.”
Dr Phadnis added, “Two approved positions of clinical psychologists continue to be vacant. As a result, counselling for the patients and their families, to help them cope with the mental illness, is carried out by social workers.
“We also need at least 200 Class-3 and Class-4 workers. We currently have 280 workers and 30 workers have retired in the last six months. The hospital is going through a severe staff crunch at present,” he said.
Class-3 and Class-4 employees are required to clean the patients, work as caretakers, help the doctors in physiotherapy and help in providing occupational therapy, rehabilitation of the patients like helping them talk, communicate and cross the road.
“All the patients need to be seen, screened, treated, diagnosed and counselled. All of this cannot be done by just two psychiatrists. This leaves us with no option but to check or treat only those who are critical, severely ill and need urgent medical attention. If the state of mental health is to be improved, we need psychiatrists need to be provided on an urgent basis for early diagnosis, early treatment and proper rehabilitation,” Dr Phadnis said.
When asked about this distressing situation, Dr Sadhana Tayade, head of mental health services of Maharashtra said, “We are well aware of the staff shortage in all the hospitals. The shortage of psychiatrist is not a state issue but a national one. We are trying to address this issue urgently. We have requested the state health department to provide us with 20 psychiatrists who can be deputed equally in every mental hospital and not just Pune.”
Dr Tayade said, that although they have asked for 20 psychiatrists as of now, the requirement is a lot more.
She said, “We have requested the Maharashtra health department to provide us with 20 psychiatrists who can be deputed equally in every mental hospital and not just Pune.
The mega-recruitment drive will only begin in June after the elections. Till then, the hospitals will be required to manage the issues.
The South Asian Association of Regional Corporation (SAARC) Psychiatry Federation’s president, Brigadier MSVK Raju, said, “Currently India has at least 5,000 psychiatrists and we need at least 13,500. There are 150 million people suffering from mental illness in the country and the ratio of patients and psychiatrists is very poor here.”