Tamil Nadu: Why the state needs expansion of health infrastructure, not new gov't medical colleges

Picture for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)
Picture for representational purpose only | (Pic: Express)

Tamil Nadu needs to allocate more funds to develop health infrastructure and should increase human resources in government hospitals to ensure quality medical and health care services, doctors from across the state have suggested. There is no point in investing more in opening new government medical colleges without improving existing government hospitals, they aver.

The state has 36 government medical colleges after it added 11 more last year. TN is among the states having the highest beds-to-population ratio in India. It has around 75,000 beds across the state, with the majority of around 60,000 in government hospitals.

Last year, the government allocated Rs 17,902 crore in the state budget.

"We have several medical college hospitals but there is inadequate human resources to operate these institutions. There is a shortage of doctors, staff nurses and other workers. The government should recruit more people and funds should be allocated for this," said Dr P Saminathan, State President, Service and Post Graduate Doctors Association.

“Not all super specialities are available in the many existing medical college hospitals. Patients are forced to travel a long distance for the service. The super speciality care should be made available to the rural population,” said Dr Saminathan. He added that there is a shortage of manpower in the newly created district headquarters hospitals.

Dr G R Ravindranath, General Secretary, Doctors Association for Social Equality, agrees completely. He said the government should focus on increasing infrastructure in existing hospitals instead of allocating more funds to the chief minister's comprehensive health insurance scheme (CMCHIS) and diverting patients to private hospitals. “It should stop promoting insurance-based health systems in this budget. Even organ transplants can be performed in all government hospitals if they develop the infrastructure,” said Dr Ravindranath.

The doctors also want the government to open infertility clinics as announced in the 2022-23 budget. In the last budget, the government allocated Rs 5 crore for establishing infertility clinics (IVF) at the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Egmore, and Government Rajaji Madurai Medical College.

What stakeholders have to say
A non-service doctor in Chennai said the government is recruiting doctors, staff nurses and paramedical staff on a contract basis. “The quality of service also will be affected by this if people on contract leave the service. Also, no accountability can be fixed if something goes wrong,” he said.

Dr K Senthil, President, Tamil Nadu Government Doctors Association, said the government should stop increasing the workload in the hospitals by increasing the strength of patients. “If they want to increase the number of people coming to government hospitals, then they should also increase the manpower. Otherwise, the tertiary care services should be distributed to the private hospitals also. The government should pay for it.”

The non-service doctor suggested that the government should divide the hospitals into zones and develop the infrastructure there so that even people from the rural areas need not to come all the way to cities for tertiary care.

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