Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), ambitiously created by Kashmiri political icon Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah before his death in 1982, till date has “no roadmap to achieve excellence in medical research.”
It has neither been formulated nor presented in any of the governing body meetings, said the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s Report tabled in both Houses of Legislature in Jammu on Friday.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is the Chairman of the SKIMS governing body that performs the role of the cabinet for the semi-autonomous super-specialty hospital and the deemed university. Post-graduate and post-doctorate courses, including MCh and DM are conducted at the State’s most crowded hospital that had been primarily designed as a tertiary care hospital.
“The research activity has been restricted just to payment of monthly clinical research allowance of Rs. 2,500 to the faculty members without verifying the eligibility conditions for the allowance,” the CAG report observed. It has noticed 40 per cent shortage of faculty at SKIMS and even higher 56 per cent at its affiliate SKIMS Medical College Bemina in March 2012. There is a shortage of over 32 per cent in medical, paramedical and nursing staff. “No staff was posted for the critical care department of the Institute having a bed strength of 12, which was raised to 60 in January 2012.”
The CAG further observed: “The system of drawing of samples of drugs for testing to ensure procurement of quality medicines and drugs is not in the Institute. The drug quality control laboratory stopped functioning since November 2003 and Rs. 1.40 crore released during 2009-11 to set up an advanced quality assurance laboratory was lying unspent in a civil deposit. Physical verification of drugs and surgical instruments had not been conducted since June 2008.”
Even the one-time much-hyped Genetic Centre has been found to be a failure. “The advanced centre for human genetics and local area networking systems could not be established due to the improper planning despite an investment of Rs. 12.12 crore made thereon,” the CAG report said.
Hot on the heels of over 4,000 deaths at SKIMS last year, the CAG has noticed that 12,860 hospitalised patients died in 2007-2012 period, as many as 7,875 after 48 hours of their admission.
Even the emergency medicine department has been found to be “not fully equipped to deal with cases of road traffic accidents having multiple organ injuries including orthopaedic injuries. Ambulances meant for patients have been found mis-utilised to the extent of 40 to 47 per cent during 2008-12.”
The CAG report has also pointed out large-scale irregularities, financial embezzlements and a unique modus operandi of parking the plan funds without utilisation to hide them from lapsing at the end of the fiscal year.
Replying to most of the half-margins, Director of SKIMS, Showkat Ali Zargar reportedly said he would “look into the matter.”