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Staff shortage forcing private hospitals to hire ‘doctors’ with no degrees

There were other officials from private hospitals who downright denied this practice.

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: December 7, 2013 4:03:55 am

Patient safety seems to have become an issue at some of the trust-run private hospitals in Gujarat,where the hospital administration is being “forced” to hire “unqualified” staff to address the manpower crunch in these hospitals. So much so,some of the private hospitals on Friday openly admitted to have hired such employees.

“Located in a small town like Nadiad,which is almost equidistant from the two major cities of Ahmedabad and Vadodara,our super-speciality hospital is facing a severe shortage of staff. About 50 per cent of the nurses we have,do not have any formal nursing qualification… Technicians in the OT do not have any degrees. But all of them have been trained here and can carry out their tasks well,” said Dr Ravindra Sabnis,chairman of department of Urology,Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital,which was set up back in 1978.

Speaking at a “Health & Hospital Conclave” organised jointly by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the state government,Sabnis publicly admitted that of the 370 employees at the hospital,where 170 kidney transplants are carried out every year,“several” do not fulfil the guidelines of NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Healthcare) and so can’t apply for NABH accreditation.

A similar experience was shared by Neeraj Lal,chief executive officer of BAPS Shastriji Maharaj Hospital,a relatively new hospital in Vadodara. “In the past one year of our operations,the biggest challenge we faced was shortage of paramedics and technicians…We also hired Ayush doctors (practitioners of Indian system of medicines like Ayurveda,Yoga,Unani,Siddha and Homeopathy) and those with BHMS and BMS degrees and trained them as diagnostic doctors,” said Lal,who was part of a panel discussion on “Skill and Manpower Availability” in the healthcare sector.

Private hospital operators who employed “unqualified staff” defended their decision,stating that such staff have lower attrition levels and tend to provide better quality of service.

However,there were other officials from private hospitals who downright denied this practice. “Although there is serious problem of employee shortage,employing qualified people with the required skill-set is very critical. Training and monitoring these people is also important,” said Rajiv Sharma,CEO of Sterling AddLife India Limited,that operates several hospitals in the state.

“It is easier to find an MBBS doctor in a town like Bhavnagar or Gandhidham,but finding specialists like a cardiologist or a neurologist is a challenge,” Sharma added.

“Degrees and qualification do matter in the long run,especially in current times,when many medical practitioners are faced with medico-legal issues,” said Professor K V Ramani,Indian Institute of Management (IIM-A),who is an expert in the healthcare management sector.

Madhur Varma,vice-president (operations) of Columbia Asia Hospitals said,“These days people are quite aware of things. At our hospital in Patiala,we had to change the name-plates of doctors and include their degrees,after patients demanded for it.”

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