In what appears to be an unprecedented move, Primary and Secondary Healthcare (P&SHC) department has appointed retired army officers as district support managers to monitor public hospitals across the province.
According to a press release issued by Punjab government on Sunday, some key administrative powers of medical superintendents (MS) of District Headquarters Hospitals (DHQs) have also been handed over to them, including transfer posting of employees. This unique decision triggered a debate among the medical community and sparked controversy over the introduction of such intervention without proper planning.
An official privy to this development told the news agency that each support manager would be appointed at DHQ hospitals across the Punjab; he would also be entitled to a minimum of Rs 130,000 a month in addition to perks and privileges. The inductions of these officials were completed on contract for a year; Management and Professional Development Department (MPDD) has given some administrative training to these retired army officers.
The official said despite the fact that executive district officers (health) and MS of DHQs were already carrying out assignments awarded to them, raising serious question marks on this ‘intellectual initiative’.
He said P&SHC department has assigned such duties which are being taken by hospital’s employees including janitorial, security, maintenance & repair, etc. These district support managers shall report to the concerned MS of DHQ hospital and they will generate a report encapsulating overall activities performed by him, observations will be made there of any loophole and remedial measures will be taken accordingly.
They shall be responsible for ensuring cleanliness of hospital premises including lawns, waiting areas, wards, and hallways he said, adding that sanitary inspectors of DHQ hospitals will be under their control and they will be bound to report to them directly. He said these managers will ensure the attendance and presence of janitorial staff during duty hours.
He said these retired officers shall be responsible for preparing and implementing security plan of overall hospital premises. In case the security services have been outsourced, they shall monitor the performance of security services, including monitoring CCTV cameras.
Another surprising technical work assigned to them is: they shall be responsible for preparing a workplace waste management plan including all protocols for infectious waste in consultation with and under the guidance of MS and hospital waste management staff.
Unless a dedicated DMS (MNR) is available, they shall be responsible for repair and maintenance of all the furniture and fixture within the hospital. For repair and maintenance of equipment, they shall perform same duty and shall be responsible for oxygen supply system.
He said P&SHC department has also empowered them to this extent that these support managers can transfer and manage the posting of class-IV employees within hospitals.
MS of a DHQ hospital on the condition of anonymity told, “We have been facing acute shortage of doctors, nurses, and paramedics, while the provincial government is expanding the network of admin officials instead of providing required manpower and resources.” He said that they were already facing interference by local politicians, commissioners, and DCOs of the concerned districts in all administrative matters.