Tamil Nadu

‘Govt. hospitals in Chennai facing severe staff shortage’

A COVID-19 screening centre in Chennai. K. Pichumani

A COVID-19 screening centre in Chennai. K. Pichumani  

Surge in cases calls for trebling the workforce, say doctors

With COVID-19 cases continuing to increase in the city, government hospitals are faced with a shortage of staff equipped to cater to the growing number of patients.

A number of doctors working in the four government hospitals in the city said that there was a definite need for more manpower, especially with the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Doctors and staff nurses at these hospitals are also deputed to COVID-19 Care Centres, raising the need for additional workforce.

Stretched to the limit

“We are stretched non-stop during every shift. We work for six hours without a break and need to triage and attend to sick patients. If more people are deployed, better care can be provided," a doctor on COVID-19 duty said, on condition of anonymity.

At the Government Omandurar Medical College Hospital, doctors said that about 100 of them and 30 postgraduate students were posted on COVID-19 duty in shifts.

“We don’t have adequate workforce. The department has not brought in additional workforce. As a result, there is repeated exposure of doctors and other staff. We have to manage nearly 400 patients admitted for treatment. At least one-fourth of them require monitoring. How is this possible with an inadequate workforce," a doctor questioned.

He went on to state that considering the present patient load, and "to address the peak in cases, they need to triple the workforce across all cadres".

A senior doctor of a government hospital complained that they do not have sufficient staff nurses. "We are managing with around 200 staff nurses. A mjority of them are exhausted and it has affected their mental well-being. We are having a tough time motivating them every day. There is one staff nurse for every 30 patients. We need at least 200 more staff nurses and 100 to 150 more doctors, so that we can be in a good position to cater to the requirements in the future. This way, we will have one doctor for every 10 patients, and one staff nurse for every five patients," the doctor said.

Besides, if more patients were to come to hospital in a critical condition, additional nurses would be required for IV lines, provision of oxygen and conduct of blood tests, the doctor added.

Incidentally, many persons who had been recruited on a contract basis were not joining duty. "We have been calling them to join duty but very few have come forward. The government has to pay them more or appoint them on a permanent basis,” an official said.

At the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, a doctor said that only around 160 of them were repeatedly posted on COVID-19 duty on a rotation basis.

Doctors from affiliated institutions such as Regional Institute of Ophthalmology and Institute of Mental Health were being diverted to work at the COVID-19 Care Centre at Nandambakkam.

A doctor said that more patients were getting admitted of late. “As we are increasing more wards, we require more manpower," he said.

Another senior doctor pointed out that several healthcare professionals/workers were testing positive for COVID-19.

“They have to go into quarantine for four weeks for recovery. A few of them have returned after testing negative at the end of 14 days. In such a time, the available manpower in a healthcare facility is reduced, and the government needs to augment the manpower. It is learned that most of the service postgraduates who have completed their course will be posted. Every institution should be adequately staffed," the doctor said.

At RGGGH, a senior doctor said that while the number of doctors and nurses was “quite adequate” now, “if there is an increase in cases, we will require more hands.”

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 10:38:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/govt-hospitals-in-chennai-facing-severe-staff-shortage/article31761872.ece

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