BBMP wants to hire hundreds of medics for Covid-19 duty but few apply – Deccan Herald

Facing a shortage of trained medical staff, the BBMP is trying to hire hundreds of doctors, nurses and other personnel on contract. But there have been few takers. 
Medical personnel and association leaders say that when the pandemic first broke out last year, 1,500 to 2,000 medical professionals (doctors with an MBBS degree, Ayush doctors, dentists and nurses) had joined the government in Bengaluru. 
“They were swept up in the euphoria of helping to fight the outbreak. That fervour has now cooled,” explained Vishwaradya Yamoji, president of the Karnataka State Health and Contractual and Outsourced Employment Association. 
The problem? Haphazard salary and incentive payments between November and April, lack of job security and an alleged preference for permanent medical workers.  
Read more: How to control outbreaks? Go hyper-local
According to Yamoji, out of the hundreds of doctors and nurses who joined the BBMP last year, between 30% and 40% left the service. The latest wave of resignations came after April 1, 2021, when the government released funds to pay off overdue salary payments to contract workers. “Some workers were waiting to collect their pending salaries and left as soon as they got them,” a BBMP officer said. 
The result has been understaffed government centres across the city. At the BBMP’s new triage centres, for example, contract doctors complained that they are also being forced to do non-medical work. 
The BBMP has advertised for new openings. As per data from the joint commissioners of the eight city zones, about 262 doctors and 112 nurses have been hired so far. “This is in stark contrast to last year when if the BBMP advertised for 20 positions, 100 people would apply,” Yamoji explained. 
The largest number of hirings have been in the sprawling West Zone. Here, some 92 doctors, 17 nurses and 20 swab collectors have been hired since April. However, Basavaraj S, Zonal Joint Commissioner, said that the increased hires were due to other operational needs.  
Also read: Bengaluru: Slum dwellers to get Covid-19 vaccine jab
“It is not that many contract workers quit the BBMP and needed to be replaced, but we were finding a large number of cases until recently and required additional personnel. Until about two weeks ago, we were getting about 2,500 cases on average daily. Now, the daily caseload is about 500 on average. Extra personnel are needed to conduct home isolation visits and testing. We are doing about 8,000 tests per day,” he said. 
However, many data operators have been shunted out, especially at the zonal war room, he added. 
Contract workers said they have realised that joining the BBMP means you can be forced out at will, be put to work on non-medical duties, face salary disruptions and endure a lack of parity with permanent workers or even among contractual doctors. “The dentists and Ayush doctors, for example, are paid Rs 20,000 less per month than MBBS doctors (who are paid Rs 60,000) for doing exactly the same work,” Yamoji said. “Nurses and other staff are heavily underpaid. There was a serious morale problem stemming from the fact that the government was not paying people what they had been promised.”  
A contract doctor from the West Zone said the payment of incentives from April 1 had prevented many experienced doctors, nurses and other personnel from leaving. “However, salary disruptions are still happening. Morale is not stable,” the doctor said. 
One issue is a daily target of 350 RT-PCR tests and 100 Rapid Antigen Tests per primary health centre. “But where do we find the test cases? There are no people in the streets because of the ongoing lockdown,” the doctor said. 
Medical infrastructure 
The issue of staff shortages coincides with increases in medical infrastructure by the government. The BBMP, for one, has 48 Covid care or triage centres in operation, plus 12 oxygen stabilisation centres. Auxiliary beds at these centres increased from 2,088 on May 6 to 3,041 as of May 17. 
However, the municipal Chief Commissioner, Gaurav Gupta, said that not all the increases had been for newly opened centres. “The hirings have been decentralised and left to the zonal authorities and are done based on their requirements. However, the number of doctors at primary health centres has been increased to help with testing,” he said.  “It may not be that the hirings are for the new centres. With cases falling, we need to think about scaling down, not up,” he added. 
Resident doctors concerned 
The ongoing shortages, meantime, has resident doctors fearful that they will be forced to shoulder more of the burden. 
“The government is doing nothing to ease our workload or even give us quarantine centres after our one-week stints of Covid duty. They treat us like bonded labourers. There is no hazard pay and only a Rs 10,000 per month incentive for the next six months, the same as Group ‘D’ workers,” explained Dr Namratha, vice president of Karnataka Association of Resident Doctors. “We are losing our education. At the end of all this, we would have forgotten our specialties.” 
Check out all newsletters
Deccan Herald News now on Telegram – Click here to subscribe
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Dailymotion | YouTube
Alicia Keys, Blake Lively give odes to NY at Met Gala
Johnny Depp was to have earned $22.5 mn for ‘Pirates’ 6
Hitler’s ‘Jewish’ blood: An old conspiracy theory
DH Toon | Kishor’s playing his cards close to his chest
Alicia Keys, Blake Lively give odes to NY at Met Gala
Johnny Depp was to have earned $22.5 mn for ‘Pirates’ 6
Hitler’s ‘Jewish’ blood: An old conspiracy theory
DH Toon | Kishor’s playing his cards close to his chest
Economy on the mend
Don’t whisper into PM’s ears
Met Gala kicks off
IPL 2022
DH photo galleries
DH Picks
Latest stories
Trending news
Download DH APP
Our group sites
Download DH APP
We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve user experience. This includes personalising content and advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy.
We use cookies.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *