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Chronic shortage of doctors affects hospitals run by Delhi Government

Chronic shortage of doctors affects hospitals run by Delhi Government

New Delhi: Delhi government-run hospitals, which serve not only the local population but also the neighbouring states, are struggling with a chronic shortage of doctors and are making recruitments on contract or ad-hoc basis to tackle the crunch. While in Centre-run hospitals like AIIMS, Safdarjung and Ram Manohar Lohia, doctors have the benefit of practising till the age of 70, under extension of service and on a contractual basis after retirement, any such scheme is yet to be implemented in the hospitals run by the Delhi government which face about a 30 per cent shortage of doctors, officials said. "Out of the total sanctioned posts of 4,644 doctors, about 1,400 posts are vacant," an official of the Delhi Health Department said on the condition of anonymity.

The official admitted that the services are being affected due to this shortage. "The functioning is obviously being affected. If we have more doctors, the work can be done in a better and effective way. The posts are filled up by the Central Government through UPSC and through this procedure, recruitment of about 350 doctors is underway," the official said.

The procedure of appointing doctors, which is done through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), is complex and takes a lot of time.

"The test results are published after six to nine months. Then comes the interview part and the whole process takes around a year to complete," a senior official in the Delhi government's Directorate General of Health Services

(DGHS), said.

Explaining the reasons for the shortage, the official said many doctors, after completing their MBBS, opt for further studies or prefer joining the private healthcare sector due to its higher pay scale. "All this is affecting the doctor-patient ratio in Delhi hospitals," the DGHS official said adding, however, hospitals themselves can hire certain categories of doctors on an ad-hoc and contractual basis.

"There are 37 hospitals under the Delhi government, some of them are operated by societies. The hospitals running by societies function in a different manner. They hire doctors for themselves. They have done that in past years, they will do it again, as and when required," the official added.

Will the contractual system of hiring be extended to the Delhi government hospitals?"The hiring of doctors on a contractual basis was approved last year in the Centre-run hospitals. However, the states are not obliged to follow it since they have their different process of hiring," said a senior official in the Central Health and Family Welfare Ministry.

The Delhi health official informed that, unlike the Centre, nothing has been made official on similar lines in Delhi to deal with the doctor crisis.

"The Central government, to cope with the vacancies for multiple positions in different hospitals run by it, has approved the policy of appointing retired doctors on contractual basis up to the age of 70. In Delhi, doctors work till the age of 65 and we are considering raising the age of working of doctors, we are thinking about this proposal," the Delhi Health official said.

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