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Safdarjung to be first government hospital to run a 12-hour OPD

The move comes under a pilot project of the Union health ministry under which OPDs for key departments will run from 8am to 8pm.

india Updated: Jul 14, 2018 08:33 IST
Anonna Dutt
Anonna Dutt
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Safdarjung hospital,Safdarjung OPD,out-patient department
Close to 8,000 patients visit the out-patient clinics every day at Safdarjung Hospital that currently run from 8am to 4pm.(HT File Photo)

In a step towards offering health care to all 24x7, the city’s Safdarjung hospital will run its out-patient department (OPD) for 12 hours a day under a Union ministry of health pilot project, becoming India’s first government hospital to do so.

Under the project, OPDs for key departments, including medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics, and general surgery, will run from 8am to 8pm.

Generally, OPDs at most government hospitals run for five hours, between 8am and 1pm, with special afternoon clinics for ailments such as like diabetes and heart disease a few days a week. Close to 8,000 patients visit the out-patient clinics every day at Safdarjung Hospital that currently run from 8am to 4pm.

The hospital has the best burns care unit among government hospitals and also records the highest number of deliveries in the Delhi region, with an average of 75 babies being born each day and the number crossing 100 on some days. “This much-needed move will help people who are unable to visit the hospital during the regular OPD hours because of tight work schedules,” said Dr Sanjiv Kumar, director, International Institute of Health Management and Research at Delhi.

“Most developed countries run evening clinics where people can go to consult doctors after work for problems that don’t require emergency care,” he added.

“Current clinic timings are not suitable for the majority of people — daily wage workers, people going to offices, schools and colleges. This forces them to either seek expensive care from private practitioners or substandard care from quacks,” he said.

Based on the outcomes, the move will be replicated in other public hospitals.

The move would also reduce congestion in emergency departments, where people with normal ailments, even a cold, sometimes end up because the OPD is shut.

The idea has run into opposition from doctors because the plan is to keep staffing at current levels when it comes to doctors although more paramedics and support staff are very much part of it.

“There’s need for at least 50% increase in the number of doctors in all departments that run a 12-hour OPD,” said Dr Anubhava Sangwan, president of the resident’s doctors association at Safdarjung hospital. .

“Safdarjung already has an evening clinic that runs from 2 pm to 4pm for the busiest specialities such as medicine, but most of the people come between 8 am and 2 pm,” added Dr Sangwan.

“Increasing the timing would not automatically result in a proportional increase in the number of patients. There are only ‘x’ number of sick people in the community. Instead, it will stagger the numbers throughout the day. So, the existing number of doctors can manage the OPD but must also be called in on flexi-timings as per the patient flow,” Dr Kumar said.

In an attempt to decongest hospitals, last year, the Delhi government extended the out-patient clinics by two hours. “It had an impact, no doubt... but the hours were increased without increasing the number of doctors, nurses and paramedics, and the existing staff had to put in more hours,” said Dr Pankaj Solanki, head of the National Doctor’s Front.

“The government cannot start a project without capacity building. More doctors, nurses and even pharmacists and lab technicians are needed,” he added..

First Published: Jul 14, 2018 08:33 IST