SKIMS faces staffing crisis

Srinagar, Nov 12: In a cause for serious concern, the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), Kashmir’s main tertiary hospital, is grappling with a significant shortage of staff, leaving 1021 out of 1756 posts vacant, including 115 crucial faculty doctor positions.

This revelation is casting a shadow over the institution’s ability to manage its workload and deliver essential healthcare services.

Upon a Right to Information (RTI) inquiry by this correspondent, SKIMS management disclosed that out of the total sanctioned faculty posts, comprising assistant professors, associate professors, and additional professors, a staggering 115 positions remain unfilled, constituting more than 40 percent of these critical roles.

The total sanctioned strength for faculty is 290, with only 175 positions currently occupied.

According to the RTI reply, out of the total 1756 sanctioned posts, 1021 are vacant, indicating that over 55 percent of positions are unfilled.

The vacancies include resident medical officer posts (6 vacant positions) and the position of professor cum principal nursing.

Senior administrative officer roles are also affected, with 50 out of 127 technologist posts and 175 out of 258 technician posts remain vacant.

The SKIMS management clarified that while some posts are filled through promotions, others are recruited directly.

However, crucial positions such as doctors and faculty members are typically filled through direct recruitment.

A senior SKIMS doctor underscored the direct impact of the staffing crisis on the healthcare facilities the institute can provide.

With a shortage of doctors, the workload in critical areas is doubled, adversely affecting the overall healthcare system.

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In response to the recruitment challenge, the government issued an order in July directing SKIMS to refer all recruitments, including faculty positions, to union territory recruitment agencies – Jammu and Kashmir Public Service Commission (JKPSC) and J&K Service Selection Board (JKSSB).

The general administration department emphasized that all faculty vacancies and posts under direct quota should be filled through JKPSC.

This directive follows the government’s earlier instructions on January 15, 2021, advising SKIMS to fill all class IV and non-gazetted vacancies through the JKSSB.

The order comes after the hospital lost its autonomy in February, falling under the control of the Health and Medical Education Department.

The administration was instructed to submit all matters for approval through the Health and Medical Education Department, further complicating the ongoing challenges at SKIMS.

The situation raises questions about the sustainability of healthcare services in the region and the impact of bureaucratic decisions on crucial medical institutions.

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