Karnataka: Shortage of anaesthetists puts strain on taluk hospitals | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: Most taluk hospitals in Karnataka have only one anaesthetist, who struggles to keep up with the competing demands of Covid-19 intensive care units (ICUs) and regular emergency care. If the anaesthetist attends to work in the ICU, emergency surgeries suffer.
The Karnataka Government Medical Officers’ Association highlighted the problem during negotiations on better pay with senior officials. Several positions of anaesthetists are vacant, especially in parts of North Karnataka, and the coronavirus pandemic has made hospital management even more difficult, association members said.
The association has demanded higher pay, among other things, for government doctors and is discussing the issues with ministers and officials.
Ensuring adequate medical staff in taluk hospitals has become necessary as more than 25 per cent of the state’s Covid-19 cases have occurred in rural areas. The majority of these cases are being treated in taluk hospitals.
According to an official in the state health and family welfare department, a taluk hospital is allocated one post each of anaesthetist, gynaecologist and paediatrician. But there are no casualty medical officers. Anaesthetists are standing in for casualty medical officers, handling Covid cases in ICUs, the official added. Anaesthetists working in ICUs are called intensivists.
Till June last year, the department had 10,548 vacant posts, including 824 for specialists and 607 for general duty medical doctors. “These specialists, along with MBBS doctors, manage both non-Covid emergencies as well Covid cases. This is affecting Covid care in ICUs. Anaesthetists work continuously for 24 hours and take a break the next day. Things need to be planned in a better way,” said another senior health official.
Members of the association stressed on the need to quickly recruit casualty medical officers at all taluk hospitals to ease the situation. “The state government has been calling for the posts of specialists and provided options like on-call doctors. Specialists, however, refuse to work in small towns and quit work in a couple of months,” members told ministers during a meeting two days ago.
Dr GA Srinivasa, the association’s president, said the problem was not restricted to taluk hospitals. “It is evident in districts like Yadgir, Gadag and Koppal, where there are no medical colleges. We have a shortage of doctors even at government general hospitals in Bengaluru,” he said.
Health commissioner Pankaj Kumar Pandey said the government had issued a notification for special recruitment of specialists and senior medical officers on September 10. Separately, 900 postgraduate students would be appointed for one-year service.
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Sagar Biswas

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