Falling short: Khwazakhela’s public hospital rendered useless due to staff shortage

There has been no gynaecologist at the hospital for the past 10 years.

The waiting area of Khwazakhela Tehsil Headquarters Hospital remains empty and the wards locked due to shortage of staff. PHOTO: FAZAL KHALIQ/EXPRESS

KHWAZAKHELA: With a dire shortage of medical staff at the tehsil headquarters hospital (THQ), the 200,000-strong population of Khwazakhela have to turn to private doctors for treatment.

The 55-bed hospital in Khwazakhela, though equipped with basic facilities, is unable to cater to the needs of patients, who either go to Saidu Teaching Hospital or visit private clinics that charge four times the cost for the same treatment.

Residents have blamed the hospital staff for taking commission from private laboratories. “The doctor told me to get an x-ray, but when I went to the x-ray area the operator told me to go to a private laboratory as there were no films,” said Zahir Khan, a patient. He added the hospital’s staff referred all patients for electrocardiography and ultrasound to private laboratories as well.

The THQ is also reportedly running without a gynaecologist, with the position lying vacant for the last 10 years.

“We have never seen a gynaecologist in the hospital, so we either have to go to private clinics or Saidu Sharif,” said Abdul Kabir, a resident of Khwazakhela. “In either case, we have to spend more money.”

The hospital’s surgical wards were locked because it was an ‘off-day’. “On off days we have no surgery so the wards are empty,” an official from the hospital said.

THQ in-charge Dr Mohammad Salim said the major issue facing the hospital was staff shortage. “We are short of staff in all sectors,” he explained, adding doctors were urgently needed. “We need at least three more male doctors, four paramedics, a gynaecologist, two female doctors and at least four medical technicians.”

Shedding light on the persistently empty gynaecology post, Dr Salim said whenever a gynaecologist was posted at the THQ, she would make arrangement to be transferred before joining.

A district government official said the authority to post medical staff from grades 16 to 20 rested with the health secretary. “We have sent several demands for the position but are yet to be entertained,” he said. On the other hand, the official also accused the hospital’s staff for referring patients to private clinics.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.