The gap between patients’ load and facilities available at major public hospitals in Islamabad and its vicinity has been widening over the years. These hospitals are Benazir Bhutto General Hospital, Holy Family Hospital and District Headquarters Hospital Rawalpindi. These infirmaries are continuously facing budget constraints. As a result, this is impeding the hiring of medics and paramedics to meet the needs of the growing number of patients. However, even for the ongoing financial year, the government has not increased the budgetary allocations for these health facilities. These infirmaries are facing multiple issues like shortage of doctors, nurses, other supporting staff, lack of medicines, long-deferred surgeries, and lack of beds.
While the number of patients visiting the OPDs and those admitted there has been increasing, there has been no proportionate increase in the number of medics and paramedics. The imbalance caused by the lack of new recruitments has overburdened doctors and nurses. Facilities at these hospitals are overstretched due to the rising load of patients. Around 30,000 patients report daily at the emergency departments and over 6,000 visit the OPDs of these hospitals daily. Patients from other provinces too visit these health facilities. The hospitals’ yearly budget is Rs6 billion of which 60% goes to salaries, leaving a mere 40% for those needing medical care.
This situation well gives an idea of the inadequacy of medical care. This is obviously compelling patients to go to private health facilities. The expensive treatment available at private hospitals is beyond the reach of people with limited means. Doctors serving at the three hospitals say that the twin cities need another major hospital to adequately deal with the growing number of patients. Recently the PM had announced that district hospitals would be shut down as patients don’t visit them. Reasons are clear enough. Conditions at the three hospitals show why patients are turning away from there. If things improve at government hospitals, there is no reason why they should remain deserted.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2022.