CHITRAL: A hefty amount of Rs170 million has been surrendered to finance department by the district headquarters hospital on account of salaries of 25 district specialists and 50 medical officers as the posts have been vacant since upgradation of the hospital to Category-B 10 years ago.
Sources in the health department told Dawn that amount of salary could be retained by the institution as it was yet to gain financial autonomy for which it needed to be upgraded to Category-A.
They said that a proposal submitted to the government last year in that regard was turned down on the ground of low population of the district.
A source in the health department, requesting anonymity, said that criterion for Category-A hospital was 800,000 population of a district while that of Chitral stood at 450,000.
He said that the plan prepared by the communication and works department for the up-gradation suggested an amount of Rs1.12 billion by which a modern building was to be built after dismantling the present structure of 1970s that was planned in haphazard manner.
He said that despite low population of the district, the hospital qualified for Category-A on the basis of its rate of patient flow which was more than 150,000 in terms of OPD patients while 20,000 were indoor patients during the last year. “This number is the highest among all the district headquarters hospitals in the province,” he added.
The source said that area-wise Chitral was one-fifth of the whole province. Such a vast area needed a Category-A hospital, he added.
Although the hospital has been upgraded to Category-B more than 10 years ago, the facilities it offers pertains to Category-C that multiply the issues of secondary healthcare for the people making them dependent on tertiary healthcare system in Peshawar.
The pathetic situation of the hospital can be gauged from the fact that out of 30 posts of district specialists, only five are filled while 50 posts of medical officers are vacant and the salaries are sent back to the provincial government.
Figures show that the hospital receives 5,000 heart patients per year but two posts of district specialist of cardiology are vacant.
Mortality rate of heart patients in the district is the highest. Similarly, the hospital has been without eye specialist for the last three years.
A source in the finance department said that the amount returned from various districts on account of vacant posts was placed at the disposal of the chief executives of the province who usually allocated it to their respective home districts.
A senior doctor in the hospital said that as per rule, the facilities of CT Scan and MRI could be made available only in Category-A hospitals. He said that more than 50 patients were referred to Peshawar from the hospital in a week.
The doctor said that if the hospital was given financial autonomy on the pattern of teaching hospitals after its upgradation to Category-A, then almost all the issues would be resolved.
He added that filling of all the vacant posts would be possible only when the budget was prepared at the hospital level.
Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2018