New Delhi: The medical arm of the defence services on Friday came in for criticism by CAG for "critical shortage" of medical officers which is likely to impact patient care.

"There was an overall shortage of 12 percent medical officers in the hospitals under the Director General Armed Forces Medical Services... Even among the Command and Specialist hospitals, the posted strength varied from minus 25 percent in Udhampur to plus 93 percent in R and R Hospital in Delhi," the report said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General's report on medical establishments in defence services was on Friday tabled in Parliament.

The cumulative deficiencies in field, peripheral, mid- zonal and zonal hospitals and surpluses in tertiary care units are indicative of the non-rationalisation in posting of medical officers against authorisation, it said.

The government auditor observed that there was a deficiency of 298 specialist doctors in the armed forces against the authorised strength of 2217 such doctors.

"During 2006 to 2010, 190 specialists had left the Services on grounds of super session in service. Maximum attrition of specialists had taken place in those disciplines where deficiencies already existed," the report said.

The report also pointed out that local procurement of drugs was being done in these hospitals at "inexplicably varying rates".

"Inexplicable wide variations in rates of procurement by different hospitals in respect of common drugs was prevalent. For example, for Diegene antacid gel, the rates varied from Rs 9.50 per bottle to Rs 41.50," it said. CAG pointed out that there was an "increasing trend" of local procurement of drugs instead of buying them from a centralised pool.

"During 2006-07 to 2010-11, the allotment of funds for local purchase of drugs increased significantly from Rs 157.73 crore to Rs 371.34 crore, an increase of 135 percent against the marginal increase of 11 percent in allotment for central purchase," it said.

The government auditor noted that the defence hospitals were also facing a shortage of ambulances.

"During July 2008 to July 2011, deficiency of four- stretcher ambulances increased from 48 percent to 57 percent. The deficiency was highest at the MH Jaipur (50 percent) followed by MH Ambala (40 percent), Jodhpur (36 percent) and Command Hospital, Bangalore (29 percent)," it said.

On the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), the CAG report said there is a deficiency in manpower in its clinics.

"Deficiency of specialists and gynecologists in ECHS was as high as 27 percent and 31 percent as of March 2011," it said, adding the deficiency of medical officers in non-military stations was more than the ones located in military stations.

CAG pointed out that as per instructions, the hospitals were supposed to maintain certain items as expendable and non-expendable war reserves.

"Our examination revealed that as of April 2011, there was deficiency of 46 percent of expendable and 100 percent of non-expendable items stocked against war maintenance reserve at AFMS depot in Lucknow," it said.


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