- Total manpower is double what required
- Staffers given higher pay scales than they deserve
- Cost of operation has surpassed income
In East Pakistan, Holy Family Red Cross Hospital stood at the heart of Dhaka as a place to go to for better healthcare. Decades later when the capital city of Bangladesh has many more private hospitals competing over quality care, Holy Family has made headlines for protests over non-payment of its staffers and poor services.
Unskilled manpower, irregularities over recruitment of non-technical staff, and poor management are the reasons pointed out in an internal audit for the hospital's decline. Moreover, the 68-year-old facility lacks advanced equipment for testing and to perform critical procedures.
The audit report sheds light on how the hospital is overburdened with unnecessary expenditure on staffers whose services are not required.
For example, the information department employs 45 people and no one of them has their role specified. Six of them are posted at the officer level. At the 41-member dietary department, four officers and 20 bearers have nothing to do. Similarly, the maintenance department has 27 people but the hospital outsources all kinds of maintenance jobs.
The total manpower is more than double the number of staff needed to run the 500-bed hospital.
Violations of rules have also been identified in deciding pay scales of staffers and promotions. Nurses and other staff are on higher pay scales than what they should be entitled to.
As a result, the cost of operation has surpassed income.
Poor service quality
With the dues and arrears piling up, complaints have been mounting over poor service quality. And the reason is that the facility does not have people where it is necessary.
Ninety-six doctors prescribe treatment at Holy Family, 20 less than government hospitals with similar capacity. But it has 68 more nurses and 168 more other staff than such public hospitals.
Neither does it have specialised doctors to ensure critical care nor it has junior doctors to provide round-the-clock services.
Holy Family does not have testing facilities that a tertiary-level hospital should have. It has no Cath lab for cardiac patients and no MRI machine.
On top of that, a lack of coordination between doctors and nurses, absence of hygiene practices and dirty toilets and bed sheets have earned distrust of patients.
Wife of a government official spoke of the deplorable quality of the services she received after falling sick with Covid-19. During her stay between 25-31 July at a two-bed cabin, she was charged Tk8,000 a day for a bed plus 15% service charge.
Still, she had to pay tips even to get an oxygen cylinder, with breathing problems.
Many patients are not coming to Holy Family hospital due to higher healthcare expenses than other nearby hospitals, according to the audit report.
Anomalies in pay scale of staffers
It says the hospital will not be able to bear the operation cost unless it fixes its manpower organisation and that there is a risk of further rise in the dues.
Among the facility's 343 general staff, pay scale and education quality of 300 have been examined. Of them 152 have studied until eighth grade. They are drivers, peons, security guards, bearers and workers of other equivalent posts.
About 87 of them are drawing salaries in 13th grade, whereas they should not be above 16th grade.
Office assistants should be in 16th grade at the entry level and gradually be promoted to 13th grade, but at Holy Family they are getting paid in eighth grade with academic education up to High Secondary Certificate level.
In April, ATM Abdul Wahab, chairman of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, formed a nine-member committee comprising the hospital's director and Red Crescent members to look into the present state of the healthcare facility, now known as Holy Family Red Crescent Hospital, and lay out plans for its future.
Professor Dr Kanak Kanti Barua, member of the management board of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, told The Business Standard that the hospital management was willing to address the problems.
Following the audit report, the hospital has engaged doctors, nurses and other staff in providing care to patients at the emergency department. Some other measures have also been taken, leading to an increasing number of patients coming to Holy Family.
That boosted the income and in July, the hospital was able to pay off salaries and bonuses.