Hospitals grapple with shortage of security staffhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/hospitals-grapple-with-shortage-of-security-staff/

Hospitals grapple with shortage of security staff

The situation is similar at Nair Hospital,which has 31 per cent vacancy in security staff.

With over 40 per cent security staff posts vacant and lack of sufficient CCTV cameras,four major hospitals in the city are struggling to maintain optimum levels of security while dealing with heavy inflow of visitors daily.

The state-run J J Hospital and three civic hospitals – KEM,Sion and Nair – have a total of 492 sanctioned posts for security,of which 211 are vacant.

Of the four hospitals,with 53 per cent vacancy in security staff,Sion Hospital is the most understaffed in terms of security personnel. “We are functioning with half the required strength and many check points have to be kept vacant to guard vital points such as entry gates,and the casualty ward,” said Parag Kuchrekar,assistant security officer (ASO) at the hospital. In January,Kuchrekar had forwarded a proposal to the chief security officer,in charge of all civic hospitals in the city,for upgrading security with 130 new CCTV cameras and additional security officials. However there has been no action so far.

The situation is similar at Nair Hospital,which has 31 per cent vacancy in security staff. A security officer,who did not wish to be named,said,“In a shift,ten points are left unguarded owing to lack of staff. The top position of a divisional security officer is vacant and of two assistant security officer posts,only one has been filled.”

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JJ Hospital’s security officer S P Dhuri said the hospital had just 44 guards,adding that over 40 per cent of its security staff posts vacant. “We have to guard an area of more than 40 acres and don’t have enough personnel. Despite several requests for recruitment,the situation has not changed over the past few years,” said Dhuri.

After a molestation complaint by a woman earlier this month at KEM Hospital,patients’ security has become a major issue. Sandeep Patil,ASO at KEM,claimed the woman refused to file an FIR with the police,following which no action could be taken in the case. “We receive around 25,000 visitors daily. It is not possible to stop every one as KEM is a public hospital. Patients need at least one relative by their side,so we cannot ask relatives to step out at night,” Patil said. The hospital requires over 300 security guards in total and around 300 CCTV cameras,he added.

Civic hospitals have a system of issuing passes to the patients. However,the passes are seldom checked by the guards on duty.

A nurse at Nair hospital said that on several occasions,she had found people dozing off in corridors of the outpatient department at night. “I have never seen a guard ask visitors for passes,” she said. She added that there was a woman who used to sleep in different wards on the pretext of being a relative of a patient. It took sometime for the administration to realise that she was bluffing,the nurse said.

KEM ASO Patil said,“The security guards are not rotated from one hospital to another. They get lethargic and often neglect checking passes.”

While there are three rounds of checks carried out at Nair Hospital,there are two in KEM,and one round every two hours at Sion Hospital.

The hospitals also have to grapple with non-functional CCTV cameras. At KEM,22 of the 44 CCTV cameras are non-functional. At JJ Hospital,Dhuri said only five of the 24 cameras are functionall. “Cameras near the Dean’s office,emergency ward and pediatric ward are not working,” he said.

Security arrangements at the three civic hospitals are handled by a private agency,Eagle Security. In the case of JJ Hospital,the responsibility of securing the premises lies with the state.