Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja, on Sunday, announced that the COVID-19 hospital constructed by the Tata group in Kasaragod district will start functioning from October 27 (Tuesday). However, no further announcement has been made in this regard, including the appointment of the doctors, nurses and other medical staff. Earlier, the health department had announced that 191 posts were created for this hospital. But there were no updates on whether all the posts are filled and how many staff have so far joined. Pointing out that appointing outstation doctors will be impractical, Kasaragod MLA NA Nellikkunu also alleged that the hospital does not even have the basic equipment or mattresses for the beds.
"The Kerala government declared that the hospital will start functioning from Wednesday. But not even a pair of small scissors nor any other equipment has been brought to the hospital. They haven't even set up enough mattresses here. So the announcement was just for publicity," alleged the MLA, who recently paid a visit to the hospital.
According to some reports, the health department will depute doctors and nurses from other districts to Kasaragod. However, the MLA pointed out that this is not practical as they will not stay back in the district. He said that district medical officers and administration should instead appoint doctors who are already in the district.
He said that all appointments made to the hospital are on contract or deputation basis. "Doctors don't stay here even though they are posted permanently. Then who will come here if the posts are on contract basis? Creating and appointing doctors from Thiruvananthapuram will not work out here," he said.
On numerous occasions, several medical experts and local leaders pointed out that outstation doctors do not generally stay back in Kasaragod due to lack of facilities in other sectors in the district, including the education sector.
"More than 150 doctors are required in the district in total. There is a shortage of 65 doctors in district hospitals alone. Even if there are new appointments, a very few doctors join here. Some join for name sake and take leave or transfer at the earliest to other districts. Doctors from other districts don't prefer Kasaragod at all. So the vacancies remain the same forever," explained a senior doctor from the district.
The MLA added that posting should be done locally focusing on doctors who can stay in the district for a long time. For the last many decades, the health sector in the district has been panting as most of the vacancies for doctors have not been filled.
On September 10, the Tata Group handed over the keys to the Kerala government. The construction was started in April and it took five months for its completion. The hospital, which was built at approximately Rs 60 crore, has 540 beds. Initially, this hospital would function as a COVID-19 hospital, and later, the government will decide to convert it into a general hospital.