8 months after affidavit in HC, UT yet to bring ambulances
Tall claims of the UT health department to provide sophisticated ambulances in the city to save the patients without wasting the "golden hour" have fallen flat as even after eight months of filing the affidavit in this regard in the High Court, there is no sight of the ambulances.
Also, the UT health department is yet to launch a dedicated emergency services ambulances such as 108 which is being run successfully in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
It was in March this year that the UT health officials had submitted an affidavit in the court stating that to save patients within the golden hour, the health department will introduce one of the best EMRI pattern ambulance services in the city.
In fact, the health department officials had also studied the pattern of four states — Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal where the service had been operational successfully and could be availed by calling a dedicated number.
As per the affidavit, 10 such ambulances were to be launched in the city in a phased manner, firstly for Advanced Life Support (ALS) and for Basic Life Support (BLS) in the second phase. These were to be launched in addition to the existing ambulance service being provided by the Chandigarh administration.
"In phase one, there will be four ALS ambulances while three would be for BLS service. Phase two will have another three BLS ambulances in service," Dr Rajiv Vadehra, who is now the officiating director health services, had said in the affidavit which he had filed on behalf of the then Director Health Services.
However, even after so many months, there is no sign of these advanced ambulances coming and officials of the UT Administration blame the administrative rigmarole for the delay.
The affidavit was submitted before the high court in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a local trust for improvising the ambulance services to ensure the serious patients reach hospital within golden hours. Acting on the PIL, HC had asked the Chandigarh administration to take necessary steps to improve the ambulance service in the city by adopting best models from other parts of the country.
When contacted, Dr Rajiv Vadehra said, "We had made the proposal for procuring these 10 ambulances and had sent it to the competent authorities in the UT Administration. We had received three queries on the proposal and we have sent the replies as well. The proposal is now in the final stages and we should be able to procure the ambulance any time soon."
The information provided by UT health department in November last year stated that the available ambulances are short of drivers, para-medical staff and global positioning systems.
Interestingly, the past records of the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, revealed that the 10 ambulances stationed here spend 65 per cent of the travel time on duties other than emergency care. Only 35 per cent of the time is being spent on services like ferrying patients.
Sample this: In February this year, an ambulance stationed at GMSH-16 covered a mere 30 km for ferrying patients. The total mileage of the ambulance for the said month, however, was registered over 600 km. Another ambulance showed to have covered nearly 1,800 km in the same month. The papers showed that out of the total mileage, the ambulance travelled only 600 km for services like patient care.
Ambulances made less than five per cent of the total trips for the Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojna, where the facility is to be provided free of cost.
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