Mumbai: About 290 posts of the total 1,296 posts at Dr R.N. Cooper Municipal General Hospital and Medical College are lying vacant. “Major posts like urologist, physiotherapist, radiologist, and anasthetician at Cooper are vacant. Due to this, the hospital directs serious patients to other major hospitals like Sion, KEM or Nair Hospital,” said Shiv Sena corporator Rajul Patel at the standing committee meeting on Tuesday. “Many basic services at Cooper are being run by contract staff. How can they let essential services being run by temporary staff? If they are so short of staff, shouldn’t the BMC change its policy to make appointments in civic hospitals?”
Incidentally, other hospitals like KEM, Sion and Nair Hospital have surplus doctors. “A couple of years ago, after we raised objections, the BMC had decided to rotate the excess doctors in Cooper and other suburban hospitals. But, somehow the rotation system never got followed,” said Mr. Patel.
Sena’s Shubada Gudekar also complained that Shatabdi Hospital at Kandivli, which was supposed to be a super-speciality hospital, failed to deliver proper services due to shortage of staff.
Similarly, Balasaheb Thackeray Trauma Care Centre at Jogeshwari has failed to deal with emergency cases, said Mr. Patel.
Raeez Sheikh of the Samajwadi Party alleged that the BMC was concentrating only on the main city hospitals.
Dilip Lande of the MNS said vacant posts at Ghatkopar’s Rajawadi Hospital have not been filled up despite repeated demands. “If the peripheral hospitals are not developed, then the main city hospitals will continue to be overburdened.”
Additional municipal commissioner Pallavi Darade informed the standing committee that the recruitment process is on. “The vacancies used to be filled up earlier by the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC). But, now following a huge backlog, the MPSC had allowed the BMC to set up its own board and fill up the posts. The BMC is also in the process of changing its policy to attract recruitments. Court cases too have delayed the hiring process.”
A senior medical professional explained that doctors and staffers are reluctant to shift to the suburban peripheral hospitals. “Even though there is excess of medical staff in the main hospitals, they refuse to shift to hospitals like Cooper. And there is no will to force them. This results in extra burden on the working staff at Cooper.” Cooper Hospital handles 1,500 outpatients, 50 operations, and 80 admissions every day. At a given point of time, there are 450-500 indoor-admitted patients. A senior doctor said, “A major issue with doctors is that the BMC pay is lesser than what they get from private service. This makes working with the civic hospitals unattractive since all doctors have their own enterprenural ambitions.”
Cooper Medical College, officially known as Hinduhridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Medical College, which is expected to have its third batch of 150 students in June, is also running short of professors. Of the 208 posts, 138 are vacant.
Though it has managed to get no-adverse remarks from the visiting teams of the Medical Council of India (MCI), the medical college is now working to get facilities in place for the students. “The issue is that the MCI insists that professors work full-time and this detracts people from teaching. We are supposed to fill these vacant posts within five years of inception and so we are very much on course,” an official said.
He said Cooper has recently started its own forensics department and could build a state-of the-art post-mortem centre soon. “The only issue here is who will do it. We are also working to get back the post-mortem department from the State government.”
The official explained: “Most hospitals are built because of pressure from corporators without getting enough people, which results in hospitals ending up as empty premises. It is not easy to get medical staff in the BMC. The posts have to be created by showing workload and the process is ongoing.”
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