At the Kuttiyadi taluk hospital, there is no room for emergency medical care. Similar is the case with the taluk hospitals at Nadapuram, Thamarassery, and Perambra in rural Kozhikode.

Five years after they were upgraded as taluk hospitals from community health centres, none of the four have casualty facilities, requiring many emergency patients to rush to the Medical College Hospital, Kozhikode, over 50 km away.

Even senior health services officials admit that these are only namesake ‘taluk hospitals.’ Neither has the government created staff vacancies nor infrastructure to match the upgrade.

“Casualty service has not been created. Posts have also not been created,” P.K. Mohanan, District Medical Officer (DMO), Kozhikode, said on Wednesday.

A few months ago, the Health Department had attempted to start a casualty service at the Thamarassery taluk hospital, only to fail.

“It was a pilot project. Four persons were hired from the National Rural Health Mission to run the casualty service. But they left after getting other jobs. The casualty at the Thamarassery hospital wound up. Nobody is interested. We have been calling people for interview for the posts, but nobody turns up,” Dr. Mohanan said.

Outside the Kuttiyadi taluk hospital on Wednesday, a crowd gathered to hear P.T. Pavithran, president of the far-flung Naripetta grama panchayat in Kuttiyadi block. He related the incident of a woman who was bit by a rabid dog being rushed there for emergency treatment.

“She was an MGNREGS worker. The other day, she was brought here for rabies treatment. They said there is no doctor here,” Mr. Pavithran said during his speech at an agitation organised outside the main entrance of the taluk hospital.

But the lack of casualty is not the only problem. The post of the Medical Superintendent at the Kuttiyadi hospital lies vacant. The general physician has gone on leave for Hajj, a replacement is not possible in such cases, the DMO said.

The post of assistant surgeon is also vacant after the last incumbent was transferred.

The anaesthetist had joined but then proceeded on leave, the DMO said. The hospital’s ophthalmologist has been relocated to another district.

“As of now, the hospital has to do with two gynaecologists and orthopaedicians each. We are trying to get a surgeon on an ad hoc basis and someone from the NRHM for the hospital,” Dr. Mohanan said.

But Mr. Pavithran countered, saying that no new admissions were allowed after 1 p.m. at the hospital.

“There are 104 beds in the hospital’s general wards. But there are hardly 15 in-patients. This is a hospital where no less than 600 outpatients come everyday. Is five doctors enough?” he asked. Dr. Mohanan said infrastructure could not be created overnight.

“There is no point rushing it. It is true that infrastructure and facilities are not complete, but this will happen in due course. The government will slowly increase the staff,” he said.

But Mr. Pavithran persisted: “how slow is slow? Casualty facility is basic infrastructure a hospital should be equipped with.

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