Civic health service is Hobson’s choice for the sick multitudes in the state capital. Hospitals here boast of multiple facilities under one roof but patients who queue up are hardly able to use any of them.
There reason is simple: Patient flow increases every day but the number of doctors, hospital beds and pathology counters either remains the same or increases by a small digit. This forces patients to make rounds of hospitals again and again, unnecessarily.
Raza took his sister to New Emergency Complex at King George’s Medical University, only to be refused admission there. He had to implore two more hospitals to find a place.
“After KGMU, we took her to a private hospital nearby where doctors at once gave us an estimate of Rs. 20 lakh, stating treatment would go on for a few weeks. Since we did not have that much of money, we took her to Balrampur emergency where beds were already full,” said Raza. After much pleading, the hospital staff arranged for an extra bed on which his sister Bano is now recuperating. “The entire exercise delayed the treatment by three hours. I don’t know if this worsened her wounds,” said Raza.
Raza’s is not the lone example. Hundreds of patients end up meeting doctors and get back in the queue the next day at the pathology/diagnostic centres to get tests done. The problem does not end here. Once they get the report, on the third day they go back to the doctor to show reports and start treatment.
Nandita, who had met the doctor a day before, was standing in the queue outside the hospital pathology on Thursday. By the time her turn came at the pathology after meeting the doctor, sampling time was over.
The situation is more or less the same at other government hospitals too, where the main problem arises with pathology tests. To give quality services, sampling time has been restricted to 11 am but due to this, majority of the patients who are prescribed tests by doctors are forced to return the next day, since they can not meet the deadline after seeing the doctor.
Experts say the main cause behind the problem is that health care services have improved but have not been expanded. “New diagnostic tools came up which helped in diagnosis of diseases that were not easily detected earlier. I remember when I was a resident doctor in 1982, the number of gall stone operations were limited but they are now common due to improved diagnosis,” said Dr Vinod Jain, a public health expert.
“Diagnostics have improved but not expanded, resulting in crowds of patients daily,” he added.