Uttar Pradesh: Agra’s SN Medical College in need of intensive care

One of the first three medical institutes in India, Agra’s SN Medical College grapples with a plethora of problems, including fund crunch and staff shortage

lucknow Updated: Aug 27, 2017 13:31 IST
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hemendra Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, Agra
Agra,SN Medical College,Uttar Pradesh
A patient being carried by relatives on a stretcher at SN Hospital in Agra (HT Photo)

Not many would believe that veteran Congress leader Kamlapati Tripathi underwent a surgery at Agra’s Sarojini Naidu Medical College when his son Lokpati Tripathi was the health minister in UP.

“Today, no one having adequate resources even thinks of getting his kin admitted to SN Hospital. The loss of credibility and trust in the last two decades is a major crisis being faced by most of the medical colleges in the state,” said Dr BB Maheshwari, former head of medicine department at SN Medical College.

Dr Maheshwari completed his graduation and post-graduation in medicine from SN Medical College and joined the institution as a faculty in 1973. After teaching at the medical college for 31 years, he retired as head of medicine department in 2004.

“Till early ’90s, the medical college was considered one of the top medical colleges in the country and had doctors of national repute. Lack of resources and shortage of staff is not new but something has gone wrong in the last couple of decades. Government employees and people of upper middle class no longer visit the medical college,” he said.

About SN Medical College
  • Started in 1854 for training of doctors for the army
  • It was one of the first three medical schools of the country.
  • SNMC has 26 departments and 150 patients are admitted here daily.
  • MBBS course started in 1939. The first batch passed in 1944.
  • The annual budget (Rs 3.65 crore) for the hospital has not been increased for years.
  • Age-old infrastructure and buildings has not been upgraded for years.
  • Patients are forced to buy medicines from open market.
  • Only 150 nurses against the requirement of 500.
  • Lack of technicians is affecting services at the diagnostic centre

HISTORY

Started in 1854 to train doctors for the army, SN Medical College was one of the first three medical institutes of the country. Students were admitted to Licensed Medical Practitioner (LMP) course in 1872 and MBBS course started in 1939 with the first batch passing in 1944.

Currently, the medical college hospital has indoor facility of 976 beds. About 35,000 patients are treated at the indoor facility while over 2 lakh patients are attended in the outdoor section every year. The emergency section has now been modified as trauma centre.

SHORTAGE OF FUNDS

On August 11, 2015, two infants died at the hospital when power supply went off for over six hours and the children could not get oxygen. The then principal was removed and the chief superintendent and head of paediatrics department were suspended after the incident.

“Till a few years ago, hospital’s OPD used to receive 1,200-1,300 patients daily. The number has now gone up to 2,400-2,500 patients daily. However, the annual budget provision for medicine, surgical equipment and pathology kit, including oxygen, stands at Rs 3.65 crore for years,” said a senior doctor at the medical hospital.

“We have been demanding that the budget should be raised to Rs 10 crore but our demands have not been fulfilled as yet,” he said.

Many blame private practice by teaching doctors as one of the reasons behind the problem but Dr BB Maheshwari disagrees. He suggests the government should adopt Rajasthan model where teaching doctors are allowed private practice.

“Why not legalise private practice by teaching doctors in UP on the lines of Rajasthan? Doctors in Rajasthan are allowed private practice on the condition that they should give adequate time to medical college hospital,” Dr Maheshwari said.

“Proper guidelines and restriction are in place to ensure healthcare facilities at medical colleges do not suffer. A good doctor can balance both and poor patients coming to hospital can get treatment from best doctors,” he said.

He said the government should also think about medical colleges on public-private partnership (PPP) model to check falling standard of health services in the state.

Read more: Gorakhpur’s BRD tragedy brings back focus on private practice

UNFULFILLED PROMISES

In 2014, the then union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan visited SNMC and promised the status of mini-AIIMS to the college on being selected under the Prime Minister Health Security Scheme. Three years have passed but the assured upgradation at the cost of Rs 200 crore is yet to see the light of the day.

Various super-speciality units were to come up and plans were chalked out for a state-level forensic training centre and a new forensic diploma course but it did not materialise.

The building of medicine department has been declared dilapidated (HT Photo)

PROBLEMS AND ISSUES

With age-old infrastructure, buildings of many departments are in a bad shape. Paucity of funds come in the way of renovation of buildings and upgradation of facilities.

Shifting of patients from one ward to other is done by caretakers of patients for the want of staff and ambulances. Recently, a social organisation provided two e-rickshaws to help the patients.

Shortage of medicines is another problem being faced by patients. They have to buy even basic things like cotton, bandage and surgical gloves from the open market.

The hospital also lacks adequate nursing staff. A provision was made for a BSc Nursing College recognised by the Nursing Council of India (NCI). Admission process was initiated but the course could not take off and the college lost NCI recognition due to lapses.

Against the requirement of 500, the hospital has only 150 nurses with no proper schedule of working.

Many doctors have resigned in the recent past. The trauma centre, which came up in 2010 on the first floor of emergency at the cost of Rs 5 crore, is yet to be made functional due to non-availability of doctors.

Lack of technicians is affecting services at the diagnostic centre. Due to shortage of staff, private wards having 22 rooms for gynaecology department and 18 for medicine department remain locked.

STATUS OF RESEARCH WORK

Veterans recollect that doctors at SN Medical College used to conduct research on rats and rabbits made available through ‘Animal House’ which later closed down.

In 1998, Nuclear Medicine Unit was opened at the college. The then head of medicine department Dr DK Hazra got the unit functional in association with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

Patients of thyroid imbalance and cancer were treated through radioactive gamma rays. The unit, however, was shut down for the want of technicians after which all research work stopped here.

Read more | Gorakhpur’s BRD medical college: Probe team’s findings come as no surprise

First Published: Aug 27, 2017 13:31 IST