Sopore: Despite being considered one of leading medical facilities in north Kashmir, Sub-district Hospital, Sopore, is plagued by its lack of staff and inadequate infrastructure. The hospital, which was upgraded from a relatively small one to a top medical institute, has not yet realised its full potential.
The 200-bed facility sees a huge rush of around 1,500 patients on a daily basis from Sopore and from adjoining areas like Bandipora, Rafiabad, Handwara, and Kupwara and even far-off Tangmarg. However due to a dearth of staff, the patients suffer and are unable to get decent healthcare.
A senior member of the hospital administration, who did not want to be named, told Kashmir Reader that there are almost 54 doctors allotted to Sopore division but only 33 posts are filled while the remaining 21 lie vacant. This not only becomes the reason for the suffering of the patients who visit this hospital for check-ups, but the doctors on duty, being very less in number, have to attend to a huge rush. The quality of checkups is obviously affected.
There are almost 15 Primary Health Centres (PHCs) working in Sopore division, but only a few have a doctor facility available.
“Botingoo PHC has four posts allotted, but only three are available which include a sweeper, pharmacist and a nurse. The doctor facility remains in question, and patients who visit this PHC are treated by a nurse on duty. We had a doctor available here till last year, but he was transferred, and till this date no one has been sent in his place,” Nisar Ahmad, a local of Botingoo, told Kashmir Reader.
The same is the story of another PHC, this one in Tarzoo. “Here the doctor is available only for two days a week. The rest of the days, a nurse does the patients’ checkups, which is a total injustice to the people of our Tarzoo village,” a local, Rafiq Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader.
Ghulam Rasool Khan is a Bomai resident whose wife was prescribed surgery two months ago, but she has still not been operated on. “I come every week here with my wife Jana Begum, who has been prescribed a surgery to remove a cyst from her uterus, but till date, we have only been given different dates as the patient flow for surgeries is high. If they cannot do a surgery, than why did they allot it in the first place?” a visibly agitated Ghulam Rasool said.
A surgical ward assistant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Kashmir Reader, “We do around 10 surgeries on a daily basis, which is a lot for any sub-district hospital. I know the patient numbers for surgeries are high as compared to the surgeries done, but we can’t help it as we have only one surgical ward in this hospital.”
“For a simple check-up, a patient has to wait an hour as only a couple of doctors are available to handle the huge rush. If they (the authorities) know that this hospital receives such a huge rush from different areas on a daily basis, why are only a few doctors allotted here? It’s a tragedy that since we don’t have other options, we are forced to visit this hospital,” another patient waiting his turn outside the OPD ward told Kashmir Reader.
When contacted by Kashmir Reader, Block Medical Officer Dr Sami agrees that there is an acute shortage of staff in Sopore division but refused to share the numbers. “I have already talked to my senior about the staff shortage and the issue will be addressed very soon,” Dr Sami said.
When asked how do so few doctors manage such a huge rush of patients to this hospital, he replied, “It’s all about human resource management. I bring a few doctors from peripheries’ centres here.” But when asked what about the periphery health centres, he said most patients choose to visit the Sopore Sub-district hospital over the peripheries at their areas. “So it doesn’t affect, instead it helps,” he said.
However when asked about patients advised surgeries two months previously but who still have not been operated on, Dr. Sami replied, “We do around 10 surgeries on a daily basis, but if the other portion of the hospital, which is under construction, will be completed, we will have another surgical ward available to us, which would help in solving this issue. But there is some conflict between the contractor and the government about funding, so the construction has been stopped. I have no idea when the work on this portion will be restarted.”
The foundation stone of SDH Sopore was laid way back in 1984. Thirty-four years on, the hospital is still not complete. As successive governments have completely failed to make this a well-developed hospital, the population of North Kashmir dependent for their healthcare on this hospital continues to suffer.