Only 29 ambulances for 19 lakh people in Patiala district | punjab$patiala | Hindustan Times
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Only 29 ambulances for 19 lakh people in Patiala district

With only 29 ambulances in the district for population of 19 lakh people, Patiala is facing dearth of emergency vans and authorities are yet to take constructive step to address the issue.

punjab Updated: Oct 03, 2016 11:21 IST
Avtar Singh
Ambulance 108 at Rajindra Hospital in Patiala.
Ambulance 108 at Rajindra Hospital in Patiala.(Bharat Bhushan/HT Photo)

With only 29 ambulances in the district for population of 19 lakh people, Patiala is facing dearth of emergency vans and authorities are yet to take constructive step to address the issue.

Rajindra Hospital, where about 250 patients visit emergency ward every day, has only two ambulances and one of them is reserved for gynecology wards. Besides this, the district health department has only three ambulances and municipal corporation has eight, which have been given away to other hospitals in the district.

The health department sources say even from limited pool of ambulances, some of them are called for VIP duties and also the vans are not in a condition which can run on high speed during an emergency. That is why the department and Rajindra Hospital depend heavily on 108 ambulance service and NGOs, they said. They also said in four community health centres-Kulhemajra, Kauli, Shutrana and Harpalpur- there are no ambulances at all.

Although 108 emergency service has 16 vans but only three ambulances are available for the city. One each remains at Rajindra Hospital and Mata Kaushalya Hospital and the remaining one stands near Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib.

‘108- UNRELIABLE’

In emergency, 108 cannot always come to the aid of the needy as they sometimes refuse to carry patient over long distances, like Patiala to PGI in Chandigarh or from the interiors of the district to Rajindra Hospital in the city.

“My father-in-law was suffering with a heart disease and he was referred to PGI but there was no free ambulance service in the hospital. I rang up 108 and I was asked to wait for a moment but later they told me that none was available at that moment. We had to hire a private ambulance immediately on Rs 1700 and we were already facing financial crisis,” said Billu Singh, from Barnala district.

According to health department norms, critical patients are first referred to Rajindra and if the situation is more serious, they are referred to PGIMER, Chandigarh. An ambulance, which goes to PGI, has to cover over 90 kilometers on one visit. The 108 ambulance often fails to provide such services and patients have to hire private ambulances at such moments.

PRIVATE AMBULANCES EXPENSIVE

Vinod Sharma, who is the general secretary of an NGO, Janhit Samiti, which provides ambulances, said, “Initially, the service of 108 was satisfactory but now sometimes patients have to hire private ambulances on the spot, which is an expensive affair.’’

108 provides all services free of cost but private ambulances charge Rs 1700 to Rs 2000 from a patient without oxygen and life saving facilities. Patients have to pay Rs 200 extra for AC and Rs 300 extra for oxygen.

“When 108 refuse, patients choose private ambulance. It happens and we get costumers regularly,” said a private ambulance driver.