Thiruvananthapuram: Even as government hospitals in Kerala are witnessing a rush of patients several posts of doctors are lying vacant.
The Health Department estimates a shortage of 800 doctors, primarily specialist ones. There are 400 vacancies in district and taluk hospitals as well as Community Health Centres (CHCs).
Sanction for appointing doctors in the 1,200 posts announced by the first Pinarayi Vijayan Government (2016-21) is still awaited. The restrictions imposed by the Finance Department in sanctioning new posts and appointments are preventing timely filling up of vacancies.
The number of people seeking both Out-Patient (OP) and In-Patient treatment is increasing with each passing year.
In Thiruvananthapuram Medical College Hospital alone, a total of 9.25 lakh patients sought treatment in the OP wing during from January 2022 to January 2023. During 2021-22 this was 8.9 lakh patients while in 2020-21 it was 6.17 lakh. The figure for IP treatment in the same hospital last year was 90,000 patients, whereas it was 62,000 in 2020-21.
A total of 45.15 lakh people sought IP treatment between 2019 and 2020 from CHCs to District Hospitals. In 2022-23, the number crossed 51 lakh.
Earlier it was reported that the mounting vacancies of doctors in the public healthcare sector is because of the reluctance of qualified medical professionals to join government hospitals even though a State job, otherwise, is coveted by many. Often government hospitals run the show with doctors provided on a temporary basis by the National Rural Health Mission.
It is well-known that new MBBS graduates across the country are reluctant to take up mandatory postings in rural areas owing to lack of facilities at Primary Health Centres and the inconvenience on several counts while working or staying in villages. It is puzzling why so many doctors in Kerala still stay away from government service.