The endocrinology department at the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) has been shut for a week, and the situation is likely to remain unchanged for the rest of the month.
The department sees between 40 and 50 patients a day for diabetes and thyroid disorders. They are being sent to the general medicine Out Patient Department (OPD) as there are simply no endocrinologist at the hospital.
Two years ago, Dr Rekha Singh took charge of the department after the retirement of Senior Endocrinologist Dr PV Rao. However, she is on medical leave for three months, rendering the department devoid of any doctor.
NIMS has been facing a shortage of doctors since 2004 with many doctors switching to private hospitals due to dissatisfaction with salaries in government hospitals.
Dr K. Manohar, Director of NIMS, told TNM that the same situation was to be found not just in other government hospitals in Hyderabad, but the whole state. There said there were 1,500 government doctors in Hyderabad but just 15 endocrinologists.
He added that it was also a flaw with the medical education system. “We only have three seats (in government medical colleges) in the Department of Endocrinology and for general medicine we have 50 seats in the state (at the post-graduate level). For Endocrinology only Osmania hospital has seats. It’s not just that upcoming doctors do not apply for endocrinology department, but also there are no seats available in the state. More seats should be made available to increase the number of specialists in the state.”
Medical colleges have a system of post-graduate medical students assisting doctors under supervision, thereby learning and simultaneously also reducing the workload of doctors.
Dr Manohar says that he has issued notifications for the vacancies – professors, assistant professors and associates – in the department and have received 144 applications. After scrutinizing applications, in a weeks’ time, interviews for the various posts will be completed by the first week of August, he said.