Shocked at the abysmal situation in Kalawati Saran Hospital, which is the primary tertiary medical centre for children from Delhi and neighbouring States, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has written to the Union Health Ministry asking for immediate intervention to remedy the state of affairs.

The hospital caters to the poorest of the poor and “though it has a capacity of 375 beds in very little space, it has 150 per cent bed occupancy rate,” said NCPCR member Dr. Vandana Prasad, who was part of the team which undertook the process of inspecting medical services (public and private) available for children in the Capital.

In its letter, the NCPCR member has also noted that there is a drastic shortage of staff at all levels other than the medical staff which is just adequate. “This is resulting in very critical failure to achieve quality care by any standards. Often there is more than one child to a bed and beds are kept nearly touching each other barely allowing the medical staff to move about. Parents are occupying every possible inch of floor space. Since staff is critically short, parents are doing much of the supportive paramedical care,” noted the NCPCR letter.

The NCPCR team also noted: “Parents and family members were seen manually ventilating with Ambu bag, their tiny intubated babies on a 24/7 basis. Doctors are registering patients, treating them, escorting patients to various departments for investigations and resuscitating patients without any space and adequate support. There is also a dire shortage of cleaning and laundry staff, social workers and technicians. The hospital does not seem to have a functional management committee or a management that is able/has the power and capacity to make changes in favour of quality care. In all the hospital resembles a camp hospital during disaster rather than a well established historic children’s hospital in the heart of the Capital city.”

The Commission has highlighted that there is an urgent need to increase the staff strength at the Hospital immediately and appoint an external quality assurance team to evaluate the situation and work out a plan for decongestion of the ward area.

Dr. Prasad said: “The Commission has taken suo moto cognizance of the matter and will follow up the progress on the case with the Central Health Ministry. The hospital had informed us that 50 more beds are likely to be added though this is no where close to compensate for the heavy patient load that medical centre gets.”