Students of Gujarat Medical College (GMS), attached to New Civil hospital in Surat, have been asked by higher authorities to take up clinical postings amid soaring COVID-19 cases in the city last week.
A circular issued from the office of the Dean read, “Local students and those living in hostel have to remain present in college. As per guidelines of Medical Council of India, clinical posting is mandatory. The accommodation, food and transport facilities will be provided. Students who fail to comply shall be treated as absent and will not be eligible to sit for the examinations.”
Students of GMC took to Twitter to protest against the circular issued by the college making it compulsory for MBBS students to be present in college for clinical posting.
The student union of GMC has raised questions about safety of students, especially those who will have to travel from remote areas and demanded that clinical postings be voluntary. They raised question on whether students will be given stipends, relief in internship, proper hotel stay during quarantine and PPE in lieu of the services.
The total number of cases in Gujarat has now crossed the mark of 40,000. The state reported a new high of 879 COVID-19 positive cases in a single day on July 12 taking the tally of total cases to 41,889.Surat reported the highest number with 251 new cases followed by Ahmedabad with 172 new cases and 13 deaths taking the death toll of the state to 2,065.
While Ahmedabad still accounts for almost half the total cases of Gujarat, Surat has emerged as the new hot spot with total number of cases reported from the district reaching 7,828 so far.
Meanwhile, the authorities at GMC have claimed that the students will receive proper training and only then act as supporting staff at facilities where COVID-19 patients are being treated.
“MBBS part 2 students are being called for clinical posting. There are 131 students in total, out of which 31 have already reported to us. They are being trained to work as assisting staff and in couple of days they shall be posted at the New Civil Hospital to be clinical assistants,” doctor Jayesh Brahmbhatt, Dean of GMC, Surat told reporters.
Gujarat has been grappling with shortage of doctors in government hospitals for more than a year.On May 28, the Gujarat Health Department, in the middle of the pandemic, had issued an advertisement seeking 686 contractual doctors for various department and designations for the six civil hospitals in Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Surat, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar and Vadodara.
In June 2019, Health Minister Nitin Patel had stated during an Assembly session that there were 479 vacancies. By May 2020, the number of vacancies had gone up to 686 suggesting that doctors had quit from government service.
It should be noted that public health care facilities in the state are crumbling with the state government spending only 1% of its SDP on public health, a significant portion of which goes to medical education and insurance.
Surat that is emerging as a new hot spot, has vacancies for 91 doctors including posts of Professors, Associate Professors, Assistant Professors and Tutors in various departments. Ahmedabad that has the highest number of cases so far has 106 vacancies of doctors in government hospitals.
Surat, one of the districts that witnessed the Plague Epidemic in 1994, does not have health care facilities at par with Ahmedabad. Moreover, the chances of spreading of the infection is higher than Ahmedabad as the population density of the city is higher with136.8 persons per hectare as compared to 119.5 persons per hectare in Ahmedabad.