Although the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at civic-run Kamala Nehru Hospital is yet to become operational, a Right To Information (RTI) query has thrown up a shocking fact — the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) health department is spending lakhs of rupees towards salary for ICU specialist doctors, despite the non-functioning of the ICU unit.
The health department had appointed a total of five doctors for the ICU in 2012, and fixed the salary for each doctor at Rs 50,000 under a lucrative contract. As per the information received from the RTI, till now the civic body has spent Rs 19.5 lakh towards payment of salaries to them.
“Neither the civic body nor citizens have benefited from the appointment of these five doctors. We don’t understand how they can employ ICU specialist doctors without the facility becoming functional yet,” said Subhash Jadhav, the RTI activist who filed the query.
When Chief Health officer Dr S T Pardeshi was questioned about the pay deal, he refrained from giving details. “We had appointed these five doctors for the post of ICU physicians. But we don’t have the ICU facility right now, so these doctors are working as casualty specialists,” said Pardeshi.
Attacking the dole-out, Jadhav said that in May 2012, the health department appointed Dr Bhagwan Gore, Dr Bharat Jain, Dr Yogesh Asava, Dr Yogesh Lad and Dr Ramakrushna Ghubade on a six-month contractual basis for the post of ICU physicians. The salary was fixed at Rs 50,000 per month for each doctor.
The contract of Dr Gore had concluded in September 2012, while Dr Jain, Asava and Lad’s contract was renewed twice. Dr Ghubade’s contract was renewed thrice and his term will finish in October 2013.
“It means four doctors are working without any contract. The hospital is currently struggling to set up basic facilities, while on the other hand the health department is spending lakhs of rupees towards their salaries,” Jadhav said.
ICU fails to take off
Two years ago, the PMC spent Rs 52 crore to renovate the Kamala Nehru hospital situated in Mangalwar Peth, which included an ICU facility for critically ill and poor patients.
But till date, the facility remains only on paper. In the absence of an ICU, several patients have no other option but to approach private hospitals, which charge exorbitant amounts. Moreover, the Central Oxygen System (COS) is a basic requirement of an ICU, but the licence is provided by the Chief Controller of Explosives (CCoE), an authority of the central government, which has not been received yet.
“We didn’t get the permission due to the absence of the oxygen plant. Recently, we have installed that plant and will soon receive the permission,” said Dr S T Pardeshi.