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Vacant posts cripple rural healthcare, referral deluge continues

GMC Handwara has over 60% faculty positions vacant
12:28 AM Mar 25, 2024 IST | MUKEET AKMALI
vacant posts cripple rural healthcare  referral deluge continues
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Srinagar, Mar 24:  As the referral from rural areas to main tertiary care hospitals continues to be a big challenge to the health sector, the failure of authorities to fill up vacancies of medical staff at newly established rural healthcare facilities is further fueling the higher referral rate.

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A glaring example of this issue is the Government Medical College (GMC) Handwara, where the vacancy of professors, doctors, and paramedics is hampering the smooth functioning of the institute.

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According to information shared by the GMC Handwara to an RTI query by M M Shuja, of the total faculty posts of 110, a staggering 67 positions are vacant, with only 34 faculty positions currently filled. Of these 34, only 24 are permanent, while 10 are academic arrangements.

A closer look at the figures reveals a dire situation.

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Of the total 24 sanctioned posts of professors in the medical college, only four positions are filled, and those too are academic arrangements, leaving 20 professor positions vacant.

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The situation is equally concerning for Associate Professor positions.

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Of the 34 sanctioned posts, only five are filled, again through academic arrangements, leaving a whopping 29 associate professor posts vacant.

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Imagine a medical college where at least 90 percent of Professor and Associate Professor positions are vacant.

Furthermore, there are 52 sanctioned positions for Assistant Professors, of which 18 are vacant, and 10 are filled through academic arrangements.

The crisis extends beyond the medical college.

Of the sanctioned 81 posts for senior residents and demonstrators, only 18 are filled, leaving a staggering 63 positions vacant.

Similarly, of the 70 sanctioned junior resident posts, only 36 are currently occupied, with 24 remaining vacant.

The situation at the Associated District Hospital is equally dire.

Of the three consultant Gynecology positions, all are vacant.

Similarly, all three consultant Anesthesiologist posts are also vacant, while five Medical Officer positions remain unfilled.

In total, of a total 51 posts, 22 are vacant.

“This severe shortage of medical personnel in rural healthcare facilities is crippling their ability to provide adequate care, forcing patients to seek treatment at overburdened tertiary care hospitals in urban centres. This, in turn, exacerbates the strain on the healthcare system, creating a vicious cycle that disproportionately impacts rural communities,” a senior Health Department official said.

Experts and healthcare advocates have urged the authorities to prioritise the recruitment and retention of medical personnel in rural areas, calling for immediate action to address this critical issue that has far-reaching consequences for the health and well-being of rural communities.

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