The second-biggest Covid-19 hospital run by the Delhi government, Guru Teg Bahadur, and the associated University College of Medical Sciences in Dilshad Garden have been battling a perpetual shortage of staff, with the teachers’ association reaching out to the authorities multiple times during the pandemic.
The posts of over 200 specialists and resident doctors are vacant at the hospital and the college.
In their latest letter to the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) chairperson lieutenant governor Anil Baijal, the association has said, “We, the faculty of University College of Medical Sciences, would like to bring your attention to the shortfall of over 200 doctors (nearly 100 faculty members and 100 senior residents) at University College of Medical Sciences associated with the Covid-designated GTB hospital.”
The letter states that no faculty member has been recruited in a decade and no senior residents, who are at the forefront of patient care, have been recruited in the last four years.
At present, about 300 Covid-19 patients are admitted to the hospital.
“We have not received any response yet. We have raised this issue from time to time, especially now that it has become a Covid-only hospital. Adding to the woes is the duality of the authorities—the medical college is run by the Delhi University whereas the hospital is run by the Delhi government. The trust-deficit between doctors from the college and the hospital who do not interact with each other affects patient care as well,” Dr Satendra Singh, the vice president of UCMS teachers’ association, said.
“Due to the difference in processes followed by the two authorities for promotions—the Delhi government follows a time-bound system and DU employs a screening committee that has to approve the promotions each year—there have been times when a junior from the department ends up becoming a professor even though their seniors are yet to receive a promotion. This screening committee hasn’t met for five years. This is another reason why a lot of faculty members from the hospital have quit,” Dr Singh said.
This comes at a time when the government is looking at various modalities to fill up posts and hire additional medical staff to take care of Covid-19 patients. Dr Mahesh Verma, the vice-chancellor of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, has been tasked by the Delhi government to help fill up posts during the Covid-19 crisis. He suggested providing incentives such as bonuses, health insurance for the doctors’ families, and commendations to those working in Covid-19 wards to attract trained staff to hospitals.
“I am not aware of the ongoing government processes or approvals that are needed. But, yes there is a shortage of manpower across hospitals, especially in core departments that are needed for the management of Covid-19 patients such as anaesthetists, intensivists, pulmonologist, general medicine, and for the laboratory. And, trained nursing staff. Apart from the hiring of staff for the hospitals, the other term of reference for us was to look at ways for rationalising the currently available staff,” Dr Mahesh Verma said.