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Home News and Update Year 2010 Govt Hospitals' Cancer Units Idle

Govt Hospitals' Cancer Units Idle

Times of India
15 June 2010
By Risha Chitlangia
New Delhi, India

No Recruitment In Radiotherapy Depts, Patients Turn To Pvt Sector
VICTIM OF APATHY: With no medical physicist, Lok Nayak Hospital's radiotherapy unit has remained shut for the past one-and-a-half yearsVICTIM OF APATHY: With no medical physicist, Lok Nayak Hospital's radiotherapy unit has remained shut for the past one-and-a-half years
Lok Nayak Hospital’s radiotherapy unit has remained shut for the past one–and–a–half years. Reason: it doesn’t have a medical physicist. Lok Nayak is one of the four government hospitals in the city which provide cancer treatment. Safdarjung Hospital’s radiotherapy unit, too, is non–functional. As a result, the work load at AIIMS and Delhi State Cancer Institute (DSCI) has gone up by 40%. With government hospitals unable to meet the increasing demand for radiotherapy, patients have no choice but to opt for expensive treatment at private hospitals.

According to Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) guidelines, a hospital can provide radiotherapy only if it has one medical physicist per machine. ‘‘We have advertised several times, but not many medical physicist have turned up for the interview. We will advertise again,’’ said Dr AK Banerjee, medical superintendent.

According to senior doctors at Lok Nayak, poor payscale is the primary reason why medical physicists don’t apply for vacant posts. ‘‘They are hiring on contract basis and the payscale is very low. The counterparts in other government hospitals are drawing almost double the amount. Moreover, with so many private hospitals starting cancer treatment facility, their demand has really gone up,’’ said a senior doctor.

The machines used for radiotherapy at Lok Nayak is another reason why posts are vacant. ‘‘Now, there are linear accelerators in which no radioactive isotope is used and the dose remains constant. As a result, a patient is exposed to radiation for lesser duration. With time there is a need to upgrade the system,’’ said a senior doctor at AIIMS.

Due to the closure of two government–run radiotherapy units in the capital, the patient load has tremendously increased on AIIMS and DSCI. Sources say that waiting period for radiotherapy at AIIMS is around 4–5 weeks.

‘‘The patient load has gone up by 40%. We do close to 300–350 radiotherapies every day. If the two units that have been shut are made operational, the work pressure can be evenly divided,’’ said Dr GK Rath, chief, Institute Rotary Cancer Hospital, AIIMS.

Cancer treatment at these hospital, except AIIMS, is free of cost. But due to poor facilities in government–run hospitals, patients are forced to turn to private hospital for treatment.

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