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How Best To Administer GMC

The government decision to appoint an IAS officer as GMC administrator comes in the wake of widespread criticism of the functioning of the GMC. The administrator is expected to establish better coordination between GMC and health ministry. The government has also appointed a retired officer, N D Agrawal to examine public grievances relating to inadequacies and deficiencies in GMC and give his findings within three weeks. The findings would help the administrator know the problems at hand. A major problem faced by GMC is acute shortage of water, which has been perennial for over a decade. Though the Public Works Department claims to have been supplying adequate water to meet the requirements of over 1,200 in-patients and the staff of over two dozen departments the GMC has been facing shortage of water, especially from January onwards till the end of summer season. Neither the government nor the GMC authorities have been able to find whether the water meant for GMC is pilfered or diverted for any other purpose.

Besides, despite nearly Rs 170 crore having been spent on the repairs and maintenance of the GMC wards and other facilities through the Goa State Infrastructure Development Corporation (GSIDC), patients and staff continue to face hardships with the GSIDC failing to fix the problems. Strangely, the government has divested the PWD of all responsibilities relating to repairs and maintenance of the hospital, though PWD was the agency that conceptualized and built the college and hospital. The upkeep and cleanliness of the college and hospital blocks have also been compromised; discarded furniture has been dumped at various places, giving the institution a shabby look. Many staff members who enjoy close proximity with politicians neglect their duties; no action is taken against them despite workload increasing on others owing to their absence. The government should also take note of the shortcomings listed in the Medical Council of India reports – including the one regarding appointment of medical superintendent – and address them.

Though GMC has some of the best facilities available in any of the government-run hospitals in the country it has failed to deliver the goods to the people owing to indifference, neglect and lethargy on the parts of certain officials of the college administration and the state government who have failed to act in time to ensure smooth functioning of the hospital. Files pertaining to purchases of medicines have been shuffled from one office to another and at times certain purchases of equipment and medicines have been made to benefit some preferred suppliers. Various proposals made by the GMC authorities, including for filling up of vacancies at various levels and setting up of a super-speciality block with assistance from the central government, have been hanging fire for last few years and not got the approval of the government for reasons best known to the authorities. Failure to take appropriate decision in time has hit the functioning of the GMC, as a result of which patients suffer. Lack of decision making or lethargy in creating adequate infrastructure could also have a bearing on getting Medical Council of India nod for additional 50 seats at the undergraduate level studies in medicine as the permissions to admit these additional students have been provisional on the basis of undertakings given by the government that they would be completed subsequently.

The single-member committee of Agrawal will go into the issues concerning the functioning or malfunctioning of the GMC and come out with its report. There are, however, apprehensions, especially among government officials who fear that the findings might meet the same fate as those of his report of the market of Corporation of the City of Panaji and the recommendation to simplify the process of obtaining services provided by government departments. It remains to be seen whether the government will seriously take note of the report of the committee or put it in cold storage. The government proposal to appoint an administrator would only have some meaning if the person is full time and not looking after a hundred things including GMC administration. And he should have powers; he should be allowed to act freely against those who fail to discharge their duties. Since allegations have been levelled that GMC functioning has been marred by political interference the government ought to disallow interference and allow professionals to carry their jobs. The dean of the GMC, Dr Pradip Naik should have autonomy in looking after the teaching facilities and research work while the administration of the hospital and other facilities should be left to the administrator.

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