Medicos smell rat as Govt extends last-date for applications for Director-SKIMS again

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SRINAGAR: The state government has yet again extended last date for submission of applications for the post of Director at the Valley’s sole tertiary care hospital, the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS)–raising apprehensions among medicos, who small rat in this “last minute change.”
While the tenure of incumbent director, Dr Showkat Ali Zargar is scheduled to end with his superannuation later this month, the government has already called applications for his successor at the coveted chair.
Last month, soon after swearing-in of the new government led by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, the Health and Medical Education Department vide order no ME/NG/71/2016/SKIMS advertised the notification for appointment of the new director, while April 29 was fixed as the last date for filing of applications. The deadline was, however, subsequently extended to May 16.
Officials said around 25 applications were received including those from the medicos working at the SKIMS. But as of now, when the applications were being scrutinized, the last date for the receipt of applications has been extended again; this time till May 23.
Those who have already applied for the top-post apprehend if it could be a move to provide space for some influential new face. “See basically, those interested for this prestigious post have already applied, as no such aspirant missed the deadline. But another extension   of the last date has come as a bolt from the blue, hinting at opportunity for some faces, who didn’t apply but may be government wants them for SKIMS,” said some doctors, asking not be identified.
The appointment of Director SKIMS has often been marred by controversies when aspirants alleged that political connections took precedence over merit and service record in the selection.
While the final decision is always taken by the SKIMS Governing Body headed by Chief Minister, over the years, “lobbying in political and other influential circles” has often been in news over selection.
On the other hand, the members of the Governing Body, including top bureaucrats, equally remain at core of the strategy to decide fate of the aspirants.
Same holds true this time. Source said apart from the governing body, Chief Minister’s advisors, particularly, noted academician, Prof Amitabh Mattoo, will have a crucial role in the selection, much the way it recently happened over the appointment of Prof Mushtaq Siddiqui as the Vice Chancellor of the Islamic University of Science and Technology, when Prof Mattoo was among the panelists. Sources said over the past few days, since durbar reopened in Srinagar, hectic lobbying was already on in the corridors of power over the appointment of Director SKIMS.
They said some of the medicos had been religiously demonstrating their ability, and left no stone unturned to impress the Chief Minister and governing body members.
Though selection of the director remains a strategic exercise, over the years the premier healthcare institution has often been into mess with regard to patient care. Just recently a mother of three died when the doctors asked her attendants to administer Umbo-bag, a device which only specialized hands can handle to facilitate breathing for critically ailing.
Sources said some of the doctors from the SKIMS who have applied for the post are “history-sheeters” of private practice, something which the hospital has outright banned.  “A few others include those involved in financial irregularities. But yes there are some upright faces, who have been meritorious with unblemished track record and no complaints of any private practice,” said a senior official in the Civil Secretariat.
The post of Director SKIMS will fall vacant on May 31 when Dr Zargar attains superannuation after completing his five-year tenure at the age of 62.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, will approve the appointment of the new director after the selection committee headed by the Chief Secretary will select the candidate for the coveted post.

 

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