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Staff crunch cripples
AIIMS Director raises salary issue

Bhubaneswar, July 15: The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar, stepped into its third year today but faculty crunch continues to hinder its growth.

To operate to its capacity and provide best possible health services to the people, AIIMS needs faculty strength of 310. However, at present it has only 73 faculty members.

Director of the institute Ashok Kumar Mohapatra said that they did not find suitable candidates for teaching posts in different departments of the medical college. Besides, those who have the eligibility prefer the private sector that pays them much higher salaries.

“Recently, we had advertised to recruit contractual assistant professors but no one applied for it even though we had offered a monthly salary of Rs 75,000, which to my knowledge is the best in the government sector. As doctors get more in the private sectors, they prefer to be there,” said Mohapatra.

He said that from December 2012 to February 2013 they interviewed over 5,000 applicants, but did not get suitable people for the teaching posts. The aspirants either did not have research or teaching experience or were unfit on other grounds. It’s easy to find a doctor, but very difficult to get teaching faculty,” he said.

The institute has started 27 departments, including nursing, but it has around 70 faculty members to teach medical students. These teachers also have to treat those who turn up at the hospital’s outdoor patient department (OPD). With a daily footfall of 600, it gets tough for these doctors to attend to all of them.

The authorities had planned to start several other departments, but it did not materialise because of lack of faculty.

Though patients who visit the AIIMS are happy with the quality of healthcare service, they have complaints regarding the delay in getting it.

“I have been coming here for my wife’s thyroid treatment for the last three months. The medical service here is the best, but staff shortage is a huge problem,” said Sukant Mohan Mishra, a retired state government official.

Many first-time patients were not happy with the long queues. “We have no complaint regarding the quality of treatment, but one has to spend a whole day for a visit to the OPD,” said Bijay Kumar Sen, who had brought a relative from his native place Tangi in Khurda.

Terming the shortage of teaching faculty a national phenomenon, Mohapatra said that even AIIMS, Delhi, one of the premier medical institutes in the country, has 200 vacancies. He said fresh applications had been sought and the response was good. “We will conduct an interview very shortly. It’s an ongoing process and with time the vacancies will be filled up,” he said.

The second foundation day of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, was observed on the campus with chief secretary Jugal Kishore Mohapatra and AIIMS, Delhi, director M.C. Mishra gracing the occasion.

The institute was dedicated to the nation in February this year, but it started admitting students from 2012. The chief secretary said that public trusts an institute like the AIIMS more than private hospitals. “The presence of AIIMS helps attract investment to Bhubaneswar,” he said.

Later, Mishra, who spoke about reasons of trauma, stressed on the need for dedicated cycle tracks and footpaths to avoid accident.