Capital’s ambulance service in sick bed
This is a discussion on Capital’s ambulance service in sick bed within the RTI News & Discussion forums, part of the RTI News, Circulars and Decisions category; Reported by Pritha Chatterjee in Indianexpress.com on Jul 11, 2012 Capital’s ambulance service in sick bed - Indian Express An RTI reply has revealed crippling shortage of state-run ambulances in ...
- 07-11-2012, 08:12 AM #1
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Capital’s ambulance service in sick bed
Reported by Pritha Chatterjee in Indianexpress.com on Jul 11, 2012
Capital’s ambulance service in sick bed - Indian Express
An RTI reply has revealed crippling shortage of state-run ambulances in Delhi and, in some cases, drivers being sent on long holidays without replacements.
These revelations came just days before the Delhi High Court takes up a petition on Wednesday, based on a Newsline report on a meningitis patient, who died after an eight-hour wait for an ambulance on May 28, with two private hospitals and CATS failing to provide him a vehicle in time.
The RTI information, on how many ambulances were operating in May this year, revealed that the Delhi administration’s Centralised Accident and Trauma Services (CATS), which manages the government-run ambulances in the city, has a fleet of 35 vehicles. It says 31 of them were purchased before the 2010 Commonwealth Games.
For the record, CATS told the Delhi High Court in 2007 that it would increase its ambulance fleet to 450 by 2008.
Four years on, only 50-odd vehicles (including CATS and those under government hospitals) are stationed in government hospitals across the city to ensure that an ambulance reaches a patient in minimum possible response time and basic treatment starts even before he or she is brought to a hospital.
The intention was good, but the implementation hasn’t been up to the mark, shows the RTI reply. It reveals that 14 advanced life support ambulances in the fleet operate only on weekdays between 8 am and 4 pm. “Any call after 4 pm is reluctantly attended to,” a source said.
Moreover, a single staff member — called an assistant ambulance officer, who is essentially a driver with paramedical training — is employed for each vehicle. This means, if the driver goes on leave, the ambulance cannot be used.
When its response was sought, CATS clarified that “these (ambulances) operate with the help of hospital staff such as driver, doctor, nurse and attendant. Technicians are not available to operate the ventilator. Hospital staff are required to operate the ventilator when a critically-ill patient is taken to hospital in an advanced life support ambulance”.
It said the basic life support ambulances, which do not have facilities for critical patients, were available round the clock.
Several hospitals, in their response to the RTI query, revealed that many patient transport ambulances (PTA) were “not in a running condition” and “were in need of urgent repairs”, while some others (which didn’t have any problem) couldn’t be sent to Vikram’s (meningitis patient) aid in May because “their drivers were on leave”.
Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital said: “The hospital had two ambulances. But both were declared damaged by a competent authority. Therefore, there was no ambulance in May 2012.”
Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital in Rohini offered a similar explanation. Of the two ambulances, bought in 2000 and 2001, respectively, none were “functioning”.
Of the four ambulances in GTB Hospital, two were down in May because of “minor glitches”.
Lok Nayak Hospital, the nodal Central Delhi hospital close to Ramlila Maidan and Feroze Shah Kotla Stadium, also has four ambulances, but none of them “were equipped to manage critical patients”.
“All our vehicles are patient transport ambulances (PTA), where doctor or technical staff are not required,” the hospital’s RTI reply says.
Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital has an ambulance without a ventilator, while the Janakpuri Superspecialty Hospital said it didn’t have an ambulance at all.
GB Pant Hospital did not report any movement of its advanced ambulances in May. Guru Teg Bahadur and Maulana Azad Medical College said the ambulance drivers were on leave.
Deen Dayal Upadhyay (DDU), Chacha Nehru Bal Chikitsalay (CNBC) and Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital said their ambulance services were functioning. These medical centres were far away from the Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital, where Vikram was being treated.
The government agencies — the Directorate of Health Services, department of Family Welfare and CATS — have failed to give a satisfactory response on a High Court ruling on fixing prices to hire private ambulances in emergency situations.
Health Secretary Anshu Prakash said, “We are going to add another 70 ambulances under CATS, to resolve this shortage, increasing our fleet to 100. We have also hired 231 drivers, and an equal number of paramedics, to address the problem of staff shortage — our replenished fleet will have separate drivers and paramedics now.” He added that all government hospitals had been authorised to immediately purchase new vehicles to replace the condemned ones.
Newsline reported on June 1 about 23-year-old Vikram, a meningitis patient, who died in Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital, a private hospital in Rohini, after waiting for eight hours for an ambulance equipped with a ventilator. Based on the report, advocate Khagesh Jha filed an RTI on the state of government ambulances in Delhi. He is also part of the team that filed a PIL in the Delhi High Court, which has made the hospitals and the Delhi government respondents in the case.