Lack of staff, infra delays surgeries at Valley hospital

Srinagar: At the neurosurgery ward of Government Super Specialty Hospital (GSSH), Srinagar, patients are made to wait for months before they are finally operated upon.Doctors say the surgeries are getting delayed because of lack of an operation theatre and staff shortage.Government Super Specialty Hospital at Shireen Bagh in the city was created out of the 12-bedded Neurology Department of Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital earlier this year with limited infrastructure.One of the patients at the ward, Shakeel Ahmad, 17, a resident of south Kashmir’s Shopian district, who remains admitted for the past more than two months, says the delay in getting operated upon has distressed him.Ahmad suffers from brain arteriovenous malformation —- a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels having a higher rate of bleeding than normal vessels.After having repeated convulsions, Ahmad was brought to GSS Hospital by his parents and admitted on November 1 last year.“I have been waiting to get operated upon since November 1 but every week the doctors treating me give me a new date for surgery,” said Ahmad. He hopes and prays that his surgery, whenever performed, is successful. So far, he has received no confirmation from the doctors about the date of his surgery, pushing him into despair.“I am scared and in distress. I am feeling suffocated living among the patients here for such a long time,” he said.Doctors say Ahmad’s blood vessels in the brain can rupture anytime and result in his sudden death. Like Ahmad, several other patients in the Neurosurgery Department have been waiting for months to get operated upon.Another patient, Muhammad Ishaq from Kargil, has a tumour in the brain and has been waiting for the surgery for the past two months. After much delay, Ishaq’s surgery has been scheduled on Friday. However, he has no hope that his surgery will be performed on the scheduled date. “I don’t know when they will operate upon me. I have been waiting for long now,” he said.A doctor at GSSH said: “The emergency surgeries of the patients who suffer from trauma in road and other accidents are being done on a routine basis but the planned surgeries are getting delayed.” The inadequate staff has overburdened the resident doctors and paramedics at both hospitals.The junior residents have to work 24 hours twice a week while senior consultant Shafiq Alam is the only doctor who visits both wards twice a day and also performs surgeries during the night when on emergency call.To cater to the rush of patients, the Neurosurgery Departments at both hospitals have only two senior residents, four junior residents and two consultants, headed by retired doctor Muhammad Afzal Wani, who was given an honorary post after his retirement some years ago.Principal, Government Medical College, Srinagar, Dr Kaisar Ahmad, who is the head of both hospitals, said the Neurosurgery Department had done the “best job” in recent turmoil in Kashmir. “The Neurosurgery Department is headed by the best hand beyond doubt. We cannot say that the planned surgeries are getting delayed. They are performed keeping in view the different health aspects of the patients,” he said. TNS