Defence

States seek Army help to fight Covid but ‘overstretched’ forces have limited doctors to spare

By The Print

As the country faces one of the worst healthcare crises in several decades, the armed forces’ Medical Corps finds itself stretched as it swings between the increasing demand from the civilian side as well as its own, ThePrint has learnt.

The latest demand has come in from the Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia who has written to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh calling for the Army to set up 11,000 beds, including 1,000 ICU ones, in the national capital.

Many within the defence and security establishment are now wondering from where they would source doctors, nurses and paramedics to cater to so many beds.

“A number of ad hoc hospitals have been set up across the country to provide succour to fellow citizens,” a source said. “A large number of men and women of the Armed Forces Medical Services are manning these facilities.”

The military’s medical staff is stretched thin due to continuous demands to create medical infrastructure and provide army doctors to man them, the source added.

Explaining the manpower needed, the source said that the 500-bed Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Covid Hospital near the New Delhi Airport has a mix of ICU and HDU beds but consistently, the bed occupancy ranges from 98-100 per cent.

According to the source, 122 medical officers, 48 nursing officers and 120 paramedical staff from the Army, Navy and Air Force have been stationed in the hospital.

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