Bathinda, August 11
Gursharan Kaur (name changed), a breast cancer patient from Talwandi Sabo, is visibly bewildered sitting outside a radiotherapy unit at Advanced Cancer Institute-cum-Hospital in Bathinda. As per her oncologist, she needs to undergo the radiotherapy sessions, but stares at a waiting period of three months due to “huge patient load”.
Of five medical physicists, only one has been performing duty (three have quit their jobs and one of them is on a maternity leave), who looks after linac and cobalt units and chemotherapy sub-units (around 200 patients daily).
Short of staff
The waiting period for radiotherapy sessions varies from two to three months. Depending on the severity, we perform sessions in advance as well. There is an acute staff shortage. —Dr Deepak Arora, Director, Advanced cancer institute
Notably, Advanced Cancer Institute-cum-Hospital works directly under Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), Faridkot.
Talking to The Tribune, Gursharan’s son said, “My mother is suffering from cancer. For how long do they want us to wait? My father died five years ago. I am working at a shop and find it extremely difficult to make both ends meet.”
Another cancer patient from Ferozepur, Gurmail Singh (name changed), said, “I have been asked to come for chemotherapy sessions in September. Every government makes big announcements, but situation remains unchanged at the ground-level.”
On an average, 150 to 200 patients visit the OPD of radiotherapy unit on a daily basis, while there’s only one radiotherapy oncologist who examines them.
Dr Deepak Arora, Director, Advanced Cancer Institute-cum-Hospital, said, “The waiting period for radiotherapy sessions varies from two to three months. Depending on the severity, we perform sessions in advance as well. There is an acute shortage of staff at the hospital.” He said, “We are trying to provide best medical services with available resources. We have written to the higher authorities regarding the staff shortage and are awaiting their response.”
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