Srinagar: Several district hospitals are still awaiting the critical-care ambulances promised to them many months ago. Kashmir’s main maternity hospital, Lal Ded, does not have one. In 2014, its lone critical-care ambulance was damaged in the floods. It has not been replaced yet, Medial Superintendent of the hospital, Dr Nazir, told Kashmir Reader. His predecessor, Dr Mushtaq, had said he had written many requests for a critical-care ambulance, but they all went unanswered.
The ambulances that hospitals do possess are unequipped with any life-support system, and are not enough to accommodate the number of patients who need them. In Shopian district hospital, of the 28 ambulances available, none has critical-care facilities. The hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Abdul Rasheed, said that 14 of these ambulances are small sized – ‘mini vans’.
As all specialty hospitals are in Srinagar, patients are regularly referred there from district or sub-district hospitals. A patient in critical condition who has to be put on ventilator or needs continuous monitoring has to be ferried in what is basically an ordinary van. Roads are often fraught with traffic jams, delaying what often requires emergency medical care.
In Kulgam and Anantnag districts, there are 68 and 57 ambulances, respectively, and one critical-care ambulance each. In north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, there are 79 ambulances, which include two critical-care ones. One of them has been recently procured. The hospital’s CMO, Dr Bashir, told Kashmir Reader that the ambulances are still insufficient in number.
A senior doctor, requesting anonymity, told Kashmir Reader that the existing ambulances are not as per specifications. He called them “ferrying vans” instead of ambulances. He said that most of the existing critical-care ambulances have been donated by an NGO. One of them was initially used for the Chief Minister, he said. It was later replaced by a new one bought by the state government.
Minister of Health Asieya Naqash told Kashmir Reader that in the coming two months, all district hospitals in Kashmir will get critical-care ambulances.
“One batch comprising 12 ambulances has already been cleared. We have received some of them, which have been given to Srinagar, Baramulla and Pampore. We will get more and distribute them. Once this is done, we will get another batch of 12. In total, we will get 22, and they will be distributed across the state,” Naqash said.