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Times of India
16 August 2010
By Risha Chitlangia
New Delhi, India

The neuro–surgery department at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is facing a serious shortage of surgeons because of which the waiting period for neuro–surgery has gone up to 2013. But this is not preventing doctors from taking up international fellowships. In this year alone, three doctors have been allowed to go on fellowship and deputation to US and Kuwait.

The department has a sanctioned strength of 12 neuro–surgeons, of which only eight posts are filled. But as three neuro–surgeons have gone – Professor B S Sharma has gone on deputation to Kuwait, Dr Rajinder Kumar is in the US on a fellowship and Dr Manish Kumar Sharma will soon be leaving for the US – the department is left with nearly one–third of its sanctioned strength.

‘‘Our waiting list has gone up to 2013. Even in the private ward, the waiting period is till December this year. The doctors are working under tremendous pressure,’’ said a senior doctor.

On asking why doctors are being allowed to go abroad on fellowships when work in the department is getting affected, Dr A K Mahapatra, head of the department, neuro–surgery, said, ‘‘Though we have an acute shortage of staff, we can’t stop people from going on fellowships. If I don’t clear the files, they will resign. We will face shortage of doctors then as well. The waiting for neuro–surgery is going up as people trust the doctors here and the treatment is also economical. If the department had full strength, then it doesn’t matter if three or four doctors leave.’’

According to sources, AIIMS is not recruiting doctors and the promotion of middle–level faculty is also on hold. ‘‘Our interviews were held seven years ago. Close to 50% of the middle–level faculty is not getting promoted, which is increasing their frustration. With some doctors going on fellowship, only a handful of people are left to do the work,’’ said a senior doctor.

Said Dr Mahapatra, ‘‘I have written several letters to the director and AIIMS administration informing them about the department’s condition, but no action has been taken. If we don’t get more doctors, the waiting list in neuro–surgery will just go up.’’

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