Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir have failed to make the Super-Specialty Hospital in Srinagar functional even nine years after the project was taken up. The project, meanwhile, has already missed several deadlines so far.
While the construction of the hospital suffered years of delay, lack of staff and "change in plans" are now—after its near-completion—causing inordinate delay in making it functional.
The construction of Rs 137-crore hospital started in 2007 and it was announced that it would start functioning in 2012. However, right from its inception, the project suffered delays after delays and 2014—when floods hit the Valley—further pushed the deadline.
After the floods hit the hospital building, the concerned authorities sought more time to complete it, citing "repairs."
In the beginning of 2016, it was announced that the hospital would be made "partially functional within a month" and "fully functional within six months". However, as on date, just the Department of Gastroenterology has been shifted from SMHS hospital to the Super-Specialty Hospital at Deewan Bagh. Officials at Government Medical College Srinagar—under whose aegis the hospital shall function—said although the faculty and technical staff for the new hospital had been recruited in 2012, a huge chunk of lower-rung staff is not in place as of now. It has also come to the fore that the staff recruited for the Super-Specialty hospital has been allocated to various hospitals under GMC as a "stop gap" arrangement.
"Over 200 employees of Super Specialty Hospital are working in Associated Hospitals of GMC. The administration is well aware of the fact that if this staff is called back to Super Specialty Hospital, these hospitals will run into difficulties," a source at GMC Srinagar said.
He said the authorities do not want to "ruin" the functioning of five associated hospitals to make one new hospital functional.
However, GMC Srinagar Principal Dr Kaiser Ahmed said the deadline announced last year could not be met due to "situation that prevailed for most part of the year."
"We would have shifted at least some of the planned departments last year but could not due to the situation last year," he said.
"If we shift many departments to this hospital, there would not be enough beds that each department would get," he said.
He said only six departments would be shifted to the hospital "in a phased manner."
The Medical College authorities are currently allocating the space in the hospital to the departments of Gastroenterology, Nephrology, Neuro-surgery, Urology, Cardiology and Cardio-vascular Thoracic Surgery.
Dr Kaiser said junior-level doctors were not yet recruited for the hospital and it has already been communicated to the government. "We are hopeful that very soon we will get a sanction to recruit Assistant Surgeons or Medical Officers for the hospital and that will help us expedite opening of the planned departments there," he said.
Doctors expressed concern over the "inordinate delay" in starting the hospital, saying "it is depriving citizens of advanced diagnostic and treatment facilities." "The Super Specialty hospital has six advanced operation theatres, critical care units and diagnostic equipment. But all of this is rusting," a senior doctor at SMHS Hospital said.
Another doctor said the state-of-art equipment like Digital Subtraction Angiography is available at the new hospital but is not being put to use.
"It is available at only two other hospitals in India but we have had it for two years now but without being used," he said.
The hospital reportedly has 10-bedded ICU, 10 dialysis units, six theatres and two emergency theatres.