Staff dearth hits patient care at SKIMS Palliative Cancer Care unit

SRINAGAR: The Pain and Palliative Care unit of the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC) at Sheri-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Soura is being run by a single doctor since 2013, the year it started functioning.
Established to provide specialised medical care to patients in advance stages of cancer, the ward was meant to ensure mental and physical relief to such patients whose chances of survival are very less.
However, with just one doctor, a nurse and few members in the administration, the unit is almost defunct leaving these patients to suffer in pain.
According to the hospital stats, the number of patients registered at Regional Cancer Centre rose to 3288, 3394 and 3940 during 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively. Out of which hundreds of patients received the Palliative Care treatment at the Centre.
“We are witnessing an upsurge in cancer patients here at Regional Cancer Centre (SKIMS). To function smoothly, we need physical space, better equipment and trained man-power, which we lack” Naseema, a staff nurse said.
She said that due to lack of staff, the treatment is delayed.
The Palliative Care unit works in collaboration with the Cancer Society of Kashmir (CSK). They provide transportation and one nurse, besides some medicines to the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC).
The unit in association with CSK, has a schedule to visit the terminal patients once in a week on Thursdays; however, “with just a doctor, a nurse and two nutritionists, it becomes impossible for us to take care of the whole palliative care unit, ” an official at the unit said.
Director SKIMS Dr. Showkat Zargar, however, is satisfied with the staff strength. “We have adequate staff at the unit. There is a need to fill some posts and we have already sought the applications for those posts.” “We have advertised some posts for psychologist and counselors few months ago and the process will be completed by end of this year”, he said.
Dr. Zargar added that Palliative Care Services aren’t confined to just medication “but also include counseling and improving quality of patient’s life by addressing their physical and psychological distress, for which the co-operation of NGO’s and locals is must.”