The well-equipped Thamarassery taluk hospital faces staff shortage.
The only clue to the beginnings of the Thamarassery Taluk Hospital is a small plaque inside the building that houses the OP counter which tells you that it was started in 1927 under the Calicut Taluk Board.
Most of the buildings here are new. In fact, the hospital has a wealth of infrastructure when compared to others of a similar level. But the government is yet to create enough posts required for the normal functioning of all the facilities available here.
In front of the casualty wing, there is a small notice which says that ‘this facility is not functional anymore’. The casualty which has been closed for a long time due to shortage of staff functioned for a few months this year thanks to the four doctors and three nurses who were temporarily sent from the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). But with a few of them shifting out to other places, the facility closed down again two weeks back.
The case is similar in most departments here. The hospital has a state-of-the-art x-ray and lab facility. But there is no post for a lab technician or that for a person to man the x-ray facility. In fact, there is no paramedical post here.
It owns two ambulances but there is not a single post for a driver. All of these posts are temporarily filled by the hospital. The Hospital Development Committee (HDC) bears the funds for the same. The money collected from the OP ticket, gate pass, income from lab, health insurance scheme and the block panchayat’s maintenance fund contributes to the HDC funds.
Abdul Rashed, the Medical Officer of the hospital, told The Hindu that the manpower shortage arose when the hospital was upgraded in status without proportional creation of posts.
“This hospital has humble beginnings in the British era as a Primary Health Centre. A few decades back it became a Community Health Centre. In 2007, it became a Taluk Hospital but without the addition of a single post. When the Thamarassery Taluk was formed this year, 600 new posts were created in various departments. But the hospital was not given a single post. Even the number of doctors and nurses is very less. We have 8 doctors where 19 are required and 11 staff nurses where 25 are required,” says Dr. Rasheed.
Over the years, the hospital authorities have written to the State government a number of times for the creation of more posts but to no avail. “Many a time, our requests were rejected on flimsy grounds. The latest of the requests sent some time back is stuck in the Finance Department,” he says.
However when contacted by The Hindu, the District Medical Officer P.K. Mohanan said that there is no shortage of staff in the hospital.
“It is normal for hospital authorities to appoint temporary staff when there is a huge workload. The HDC funds are meant for that purpose,” says Dr. Mohanan.
So what explains the flow of funds to infrastructure? Dr. Rasheed says that none of the existing infrastructure was funded by the State government.
“The funds have come from NRHM, the people of the area and the maintenance funds of the block panchayat. The building to house the dialysis unit which is under construction here is funded entirely by the people of this area. The operating theatre was built using NHRM funds. Even at the block level, there is no allocation in the plan fund. We are using only the maintenance funds. For the first time, Rs. 3 crore was allocated in the previous State budget for a new OP building but even that is yet to be released,” says Mr. Rasheed.
The Hospital also houses a district level training centre for Palliative Care, a blood storage facility, a de-addiction centre that is set to be operational soon and a new-born stabilizing unit.