80 percent patients referred from district hospitals, pvt nursing homes
SRINAGAR: Kashmir’s lone paediatric speciality, the GB Pant Hospital in Srinagar, has admitted over 1,300 critically ill newborn babies to its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in three months, with nearly 80 percent of them referred from various district hospitals and private nursing homes.
As per official documents, around 1,000 newborn babies registered with the hospital’s NICU between April and June this year come from district hospitals and private nursing homes, putting an extra burden on the tertiary-care hospital.
The areas include the district headquarters of Anantnag, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Budgam, Ganderbal, Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam despite there being around 40 health institutions across these districts.
In April, GB Pant hospital received 325 critical newborns from various district hospitals and private nursing homes, who were later treated at the hospital NICU. Similarly, 339 such babies were admitted to the unit in May this year, while 332 babies were treated in the intensive care ward in June.
Unnecessary referrals from remote corners of the Valley to the already-overburdened and overcrowded tertiary care hospital puts a question mark over the functioning of district, sub-district and other health centres.
According to doctors, the present infrastructure and manpower at the hospitals are unable to handle the huge rush of patients from private institutions and rural areas. As per Nursing Council of India (NCI) guidelines, there should be one nurse for each baby in intensive care.
However, as per sources, there is only one nurse for six critical babies in the GB Pant Hospital NICU.
“There is a shortage of 131 nursing staff members in intensive care areas, which violates the 1:1 ratio of the NCI,” reads an action proposal sent recently by the Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar, to the Ministry for Health and Family Welfare.
According to officials, patients come to GB Pant Hospital after 4 pm, and babies born at private hospitals and nursing homes are also being referred to the Hospital in case of complications.
Doctors said that the trend of referrals creates a conflicting situation in the hospital.
“There is also a financial burden on families who choose treatment at private facilities but end up at government ones for want of specialised treatment for their babies at the private hospitals,” they said.
A senior paediatrician who requested anonymity told Kashmir Reader that ‘unnecessary referrals’ not only put a burden on the tertiary-care hospital but take a heavy toll on the health of the newborn infants.
“Travel also consumes a lot of time for people to reach the hospital. By the time they get here, the condition of some children deteriorates,” he said. Hospitals attached to GMC Srinagar, like GB Pant, are teaching hospitals, and the burden leads to chaos and confusion for service providers and for patients and their attendants alike.“It is difficult to manage because of the overburden in the hospital. The doctor-patient ratio is also not favourable. The overcrowding has also led to indiscipline and corruption at all levels,” said an administrator.
The Health Department had several times announced that it is coming up with a policy to reduce referrals. However no draft has been made public so far.