With more specialists, these have become imperative

The Health Department is launching a major exercise to add more facilities in major taluk hospitals, as they have got more specialist doctors following the implementation of the specialty cadre in Health Services.

Many of these hospitals have bare-minimum facilities and doctors are unable to provide quality, or even adequate, services.

With the increase in number of specialists, the number of operation theatres is inadequate.

The Health Department has thus decided to give a facelift to the dilapidated operation theatres and labour rooms. New theatres and post-operative wards will be set up in major taluk hospitals with more than 100 beds each.

Health Minister P.K. Sreemathy has made it clear that no buildings will be constructed and initially, the theatres will be set up in hospitals which have space to accommodate them.

The taluk hospital authorities have been directed to discuss with the setting up of blood storage units in these institutions with the respective district medical officers.

The department has planned to set up modular operation theatres and intensive care units in all district and general hospitals and women and children's hospitals. External agencies, such as HLL Lifecare Ltd. and the Kerala Health Research and Welfare Society, may be entrusted with the task.

Unutilised funds

The Health Department has noted that many essential requirements in hospitals, such as repair of buildings and equipment, buying of furniture and minor construction works, are not being carried out, though a large quantum of funds lie unused with the hospital management committees.

“Many government hospitals have funds in excess of Rs.60 lakh and instead of utilising these for improving the facilities, the hospitals are just sitting on them. Some have even put the money in fixed deposits. We want the hospitals to spend this money and provide more facilities for patients,” a senior Health official said.

Though several directives have been issued in this regard, including clear guidelines on the various heads under which money can be spent, the utilisation continues to be poor.

Most taluk and district hospitals have plenty of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana funds at their disposal, which they are free to use for various requirements, officials said.

The Minister has directed the hospitals to either find sponsors or submit projects to the panchayats and ensure that good beds and bed linen are provided for the patients.

“Almost 95 per cent of the health-care institutions are under panchayats. Panchayats have a lot of Plan funds at their disposal too. But there seems to be a lack of coordination between hospital authorities and the panchayat administrations and very few health-related projects are submitted to the panchayats,” a senior Health official said.

New face

The Health Department is waking up to the fact that even public health-care institutions need to follow the marketing strategy of the private sector and the “new face” of government hospitals needs to be showcased.

Plans are afoot to put up hoardings in front of every public sector hospital, giving basic information on the facilities and services that are available there, officials said.