Junior Consultancy abolition was an ‘ill conceived ‘decision: Dir. SKIMS

State Cancer Center (SCC) to be ready by December this year

Kashmir Magazine

Srinagar: Admitting that abolishing Junior Residency was a wrong decision, the newly appointed Director in Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) Srinagar has said that junior residency programme was actually aimed to train young doctors to treat patients in the far flung and grass root level and abolishing the programme could have adversely affected that motive. In an interview with The Kashmir Magazine, Director of the Institute Dr. Umer Shafi has spoken about various aspects of the premier tertiary health care center of the state. Here are the excerpts

After taking over as Director, what issues and problems have been confronting you.?

Ans : This is the only tertiary health Center in this region catering nearly 1.3 crore population. This is basically a Health University where we focus on three main and important things. One is providing health care, second is Teaching and third one is the research. Our aims and objectives are very much clear and that is to provide health care, then we have to train doctors, provide them degrees, specialization so that they can go to the district level and beyond to provide best possible treatment to the patients. And then the most important is the research.

You spoke about training doctors. How is it possible to train young medicos when you abolish junior residency programmes?

Ans : See, abolishing Junior residency Programme was absolutely a wrong call. This was taken by authorities with a view that, “we in the institute do not require MBBS doctors.” But my opinion is that this is not a health care center only, this is also a research institution where we train doctors who then should reach to the far flung areas and also to the district level hospitals where they can be able to provide quality treatment. We are not a corporate. This is an institution where we produce best qualified doctors for the society and the chain must go on. That is why the first thing I did after taking over as Director was to revoke the order and restart Junior Residency Programme. Look junior residency is very vital programme for bringing the quality treatment to the grass root level.

The work on State Cancer Center has been going on for quite some time now and still. Even it has shortage of staff also. why so much delay.?

Ans: The State Cancer Center should hopefully be ready by the end of this year. Regarding faculty, yes we have some shortage of staff but we will be creating posts for different vaccines to meet out the requirement.
There are complaints of shortage of faculty and staff in other departments too. Doesn’t it affect quality health care. ?
Ans : Yes there are 2-3 departments like M. oncology , Nuclear medicines , blood bank etc where we have some shortage of faculty and staff, but Government has taken a decision to fill the vacancies on academic arrangement. The process is already on, and within 2-3 weeks, we shall be able to have senior faculty on academic arrangement here.

Huge rush of patients and referrals have put a burden on the faculty and staff. As statics show, you have more than 23000 surgeries in the institute. How are tackling that pressure?

Ans: We Can’t refuse treatment but this is also a fact that there are some unnecessary referral also. Therefore decongestion is definitely required and for that we have launched outreach programme where we train doctors at district level hospitals who can treat patients there. Secondly we have also launched some satellite Model Centers like that of Sumbal in North Kashmir and these centers should lessen the burden on the Institute. One more thing is important that we have to have activate the Referral Policy where we can see, who has to be taken in, and who can be cross referred or in simple terms sent back. We are also expecting huge curtailment in patient intake once the new Medical Colleges start functioning.

There have been complaints of lobbyism’s marring the prospects of the institute in the past. How are you able to cope that issue?

Ans: See I am amongst them. Have spent 34 years with them, so they know me very well so that has helped me to move forward and tackle that problem which I assume has vanished to a larger extent. My belief is that this Institute has a very bright future. The Doctors are very brilliant and wonderful. There is no comparison to its faculty and other staff and that makes me really proud of the, I am also aware of the future challenges like Transplantation etc, but I have best brains here and that gives me a confidence that everything can be and will be achieved.