Srinagar: The founding Director of Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Dr Ajit Nagpal, today said that the lack of autonomy to the prestigious medical institute will delay its progress.
In an exclusive interview with the Greater Kashmir he talked about his association with SKIMS, lack of autonomy to the medical institute and the related issues.
“It is necessary that the autonomy be bought back to SKIMS. There must be some reasons why autonomy is gone. May be some directors have made some initiatives that were not acceptable. I do not know the story. But if it is withdrawn purely because of ego, then it should come back because it is needed. It will make the institute work in a much better way. SKIMS can lead in the planning, developing, and training of human resources. State institutions should send students here and let the SKIMS play the same role as AIIMS and PGI,” Dr Nagpal said.
He added that he strongly believes that the autonomy of SKIMS will come back. The former Director viewed that without autonomy the SKIMS will turn into an institution of delayed processing and delayed progress.
“For example, if a top doctor retires and the new appointment will take around a year. Obviously, the hospital will suffer, and the same is true for other processes, "he said.
Dr Nagpal stated that he has taken a vow that he will re-initiate a debate so that SKIMS gets back its autonomy.. “ It is important to know the success story of SKIMS when it was autonomous. It makes sense to tell the people at the helm of affairs that let us go back to the same status as before, "he said.
According to him, one must understand that autonomy does not facilitate bypassing the rules.
“Autonomy for the institute is a process through which the bureaucratic delays are overcome. The rules and regulations are not overruled. For example if there is a recruitment process and we have a team and specialists come from outside. The selection committee can make decisions quickly after the results are out. With the help of autonomy, the Director can go straight to the minister of health if a political decision is required. It will help in making the processes quick while following all the rules,”he said..
Dr Nagpal said that since SKIMS is a technical institute of high caliber, even the bureaucracy and others will have to learn the process of how to respond.
“So instead of teaching them how to respond, it is better the decision is taken by the people who know the field and the science and technology of this field. Therefore, autonomy is fundamental for the success of an institution of this nature,”he said.
Referring to his association with SKIMS, Dr Nagpal said, “Before joining the SKIMS, I had been working at PGI Chandigarh. The then Chief Minister, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, wanted to have a PGI type of institute that would give world-class healthcare to people. This became an opportunity to start SKIMS, which is a result of collective wisdom and tireless efforts. The institute has progressed a lot, not only in medical care but in training great doctors who have served the nation and the world. By collective efforts, the institute had become one of the finest in the country.”
Asked about the role of SKIMS amid the mushroom growth of private hospitals, he said that time is expensive, and people use resources to save time and get the best care.
“The medical fraternity is also switching to private practice, which is okay. However, SKIMS is more than just medical care. It is an institute that indulges in great research, teaching, and providing affordable medical care to common people, "he said.
To a question regarding the issue of medical referrals and the dearth of staff in SKIMS, Dr Nagpal said that for addressing all kinds of such issues it is important that the administrative policy and decision-making process match the local and global environment and all the requirements.
“We have to check how the health sector is working globally and improve SKIMS accordingly, "he said.