An NRI from Ludhiana, Avtar Singh, was suffering from severe diabetes, and decided to get himself treated from the endocrinology special clinic at the New OPD of Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh.
But little did he know that despite starting early from his hometown, and reaching PGIMER in the morning itself, he won’t be able to see a doctor until the evening. Worse, he wouldn’t get a single chair to rest while he waited for hours. In utter despair, he dropped out of treatment.
Such is the rush at the OPDs of the premier medical institute, and it increases every year, making several patients opt out of treatment.
According to hospital statistical abstract of the PGIMER, the PGIMER examined around 22 lakh patients in its OPDs in 2014, while the number was a little more than 20 lakh in the 2013. It means the institute added 1.8 lakh new patients to its kitty, but the number of doctors and the infrastructure remained unchanged.
The institute has added almost one lakh patients to its OPDs every year in the past four years. The number of patients at the PGIMER OPDs has almost increased three fold in last two decades.
As a result, on every working day at the PGI, doctors examine close to 7,500 patients. The situation is such that some clinics start at 9am and continue to function till 6pm. The highest rush is seen at the endocrinology special clinic, hematology, cardiology and Advanced Eye Centre.
Amid such a scenario, the helpless doctors at the PGIMER had asked the hospital administration to put a cap on the number of patients a doctor will examine on a given day.
Taking note of the situation, even the institute administration had asked the governing body of the PGIMER to allow them to put a cap on the number of patients. But the idea was not taken very kindly by the then union health minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad.
“There is no doubt that the number of patients has increased threefold since I left the PGIMER. But have we increased the manpower in that proportion? The answer is in the negative,” remarked Dr BNS Walia, former director, PGIMER.
“In developed countries, the staff strength is always in proportion with the workload. At PGIMER, it take years to sanction new posts; there are several bureaucratic hurdles. However, the idea of putting a cap can’t sell since health services in the region are weak. Where will the people go?”