Dr Hariom Verma, MBBS, is the permanent resident doctor at Bhopal’s Bharti Multi Care Hospital. His position requires a minimum of six hours of his service at the facility during daytime or 12 hours of night shift every day. But then, officials there said he is “never” around.
A little probing showed that he holds the same position in six other city hospitals, besides one in Shajapur — some 3.5 hours from Bhopal — and two in Sehore, an hour from the state capital.
Dr Verma isn’t alone in making so much out of 24 hours in a day in Madhya Pradesh.
Dr Gautam Chandra Goswami, another MBBS, is the permanent resident doctors at 22 hospitals across five districts of the state.
There are plenty of others. What’s mostly common to these doctors is that most of the hospitals they serve have sprung up in the past year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking to tackle the burgeoning health crisis, the Madhya Pradesh government has, over the past year or so, been giving permission for hundreds of hospitals to begin operations — apart from those to pathology laboratories and dental clinics.
The website of the state Directorate of Health Services has all their details. It must be noted here that it is mandatory for all hospitals seeking government licences to furnish information on their permanent resident doctors. Bhopal alone accounted for 104 such nursing homes and hospitals; Indore had 48, Jabalpur 34, and Gwalior 116.
Unfortunately, most of them — even those with “multi-specialty” tag — seem to lack the required infrastructure or doctors, an NDTV investigation showed.
Take the case of Bhopal’s Bharti Multi Care Hospital, where Dr Verma is supposedly the permanent resident doctor. Located in a desolate corner of the city, it provides general surgery, internal medicine, and gynaecology services — all on paper. Enquires revealed that even doctors other than Dr Verma are rarely seen there.
“Director sir will tell u everything…We have started the hospital only in April,” a nursing assistant told NDTV when asked why the hospital ICU lacked even the basic equipment.
Around 2 kilometres away is Asha Multi Speciality Hospital. It, too, boasts services like general surgery, gastroenterology, gynaecology, orthopaedics — but with one Ayurvedic doctor. They front office executive there said the MBBS attends cases “on call”, although she couldn’t recall this doctor’s name.
When asked about these glaring discrepancies, Medical Education Minister Vishwas Sarang denied there was a major problem with the Madhya Pradesh health care sector as indicated by these shell facilities.
“There is no such case, but if any such case comes to me, we will take action. Ideally they (permanent resident doctors) should work in one hospital only.”
Meanwhile, more than 5,000 vacancies of doctors lie vacant in the state’s government hospitals. Up to 1,000 of these are across its 13 medical colleges and 4,000 in other government health care centres. The situation is worse when it comes to nursing staff: a shortage of 16,000.
The state has been publishing advertisements calling for applications to these posts, but the response hasn’t been great.
Officials express helplessness, yet permissions to set up private hospitals seem easy to come by.