Delhi: In order to provide round the clock healthcare services in government hospitals, the Union Health Ministry has proposed to extend Out- Patient Department (OPD) timings to provide 12-hour OPD services.
For carrying out the proposal, a pilot project has been initiated at Safdarjung Hospital as per which the OPD timings in the hospital have been extended from 8 am to 8 pm.
In the letter to the hospital’s authorities, the union health ministry enlisted the departments which would be covered first under the project which include- medicine, paediatrics, gynaecology and surgery.
“OPD services in Safdarjung have to be implemented within the available resources except paramedical and supportive staff,” the ministry directed the hospitals.
The departments involved in the pilot project have been requested to explore the possibilities and prepare a fresh proposal for the same, and send it to the coordination section within two days, read the letter sent by the ministry on July 11.
Confirming the move, medical superintendent of Safdarjung Hospital, Dr Rajendra Sharma, told TOI, “We have asked all departments concerned to give their feedback on the proposal.”
The move has indeed not gone well with the resident doctors who stated that without a massive effort form the government in the area of hiring and manpower enhancement, the whole burden is going to fall on existing resident doctors. Speaking to HT, Vice-president of Safdarjung Hospital Resident Doctors’ Association Dr Prakash Chandra Thakur said that they are opposed to the move.
“We do not have staff to run OPD from 9am to 4pm. How can the hospital expect to run 12-hour OPDs? We will submit our representation against the proposal on Saturday to the health ministry,” he added.
“There’s need for at least 50% increase in the number of doctors in all departments that run a 12-hour OPD,” Dr Anubhava Sangwan, President of the Resident’s Doctors Association at Safdarjung hospital, told HT.
Safdarjung alone sees a daily footfall of around 8000 patients. The hospital 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. Recently , the NABH filing a report on the hospital before the Delhi High Court pointed out said in the Safdarjung Hospital there were 1,531 sanctioned beds and 300 floor beds, yet it had admitted 2,148 patients as it cannot deny admission and this can result in the spread of infections.
The National Accreditation Board for Hospitals (NABH), a private body which comes under the Quality Council of India (QCI), further told the court that the three hospitals it had examined were overcrowded and several sanctioned posts of doctors were lying vacant.
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.