Relatives of hospital staff receive swift medical attention in city hospitals, poor patients spend hours waiting

Srinagar: The practice of breaking the queue by the acquaintances of hospital staff while seeing a doctor in government hospitals has become a norm here, much to the annoyance of other patients.
Despite the rule that a hospital employee can’t fix an appointment of any of his relative with a doctor till afternoon, patients often complain that the rule is hardly followed.
A common grouse of the patients visiting various hospitals associated with Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar is the ‘favoritism’ exhibited by the hospital staff towards their friends and relatives while providing health care facilities.
Zahoor Ahmad, who was accompanying one of his family members to JLNM hospital in Srinagar, narrated an incident.
“At the counter when I was waiting to buy the hospital ticket, suddenly a person in white apron bypassed the queue and got tickets for free for some of his acquaintances who too were waiting in the queue with me. We were kept waiting despite being ahead of them,” Ahmad said.
“And the same happens, when we stand in a queue to see a doctor. Patients accompanied by hospital staff like doctors or paramedics bypass the queue and visit the doctor. Ordinary people have to wait for hours for their turn,” he said.
Old-city resident Abdul Majeed, who often takes his aging mother to SMHS hospital, said that the hospital staff accompanying their relatives to a doctor was a routine practice.
“This happens all the time. There seems to be no rules for hospital staff. Their relatives and neighbours are often given more preference than us,” he said.
“We leave our homes early so that we could get an early appointment with the doctor but they just arrive, accompany somebody from the hospital and leave after seeing the doctor,” he said.
Doctors also acknowledge that the practice was rampant.
“People who come early should be given preference. The hospital staff, be it doctors or paramedics, are taking advantage of their aprons. And some of the employees take money from a patient to get him an early turn. This is sheer corruption,” said a doctor at SMHS.
A senior doctor at the hospital said that they too wanted the practice to end. “Our colleagues come and get their patients treated without thinking about the patients who are in the queue. But we cannot say no to them, we work in the same hospital. And one day or the other we will need their help also,” the doctor said.
Principal GMC, Rafiq Pampori said that the employees were supposed to visit a doctor after 12:30 in the afternoon. “We have already issued a notice. Patients who come from far off places deserve to be treated first,” he said.
“Those who will violate the rules, action will be taken against them,” he said.