JAMMU: In the absence of better health-care facilities, hundreds of patients are either shifted by their caretakers or they are referred to tertiary care health centres/private institutions outside Jammu and Kashmir.
These patients are shifted from various district headquarters, capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar mostly in private ambulances, depending on the nature of illness.
From simple transportation ambulances to critical-care ambulances, several variants are available in the market at different rates.
But in the absence of any regulatory authority or clear cut guidelines by the Director Health Services these private companies are duping poor patients and their caretakers by charging hefty amounts.
The Health and Medical Education Department may have been gloating over its performance but on ground zero unholy nexus between medical practitioners, transporters and touts is duping poor patients.
Soon after it is made clear that a patient admitted in the Government Medical College Hospital or other associated hospitals /private hospitals is in need of better health care facilities and is referred to another health institution, touts become active and start negotiations with the caretakers of the patients. These touts are often tipped off by the insiders in the health institution as they are all receiving commission from the ambulance service providers for bringing in more business.
After finalising the category of the ambulance and support staff needed to be booked the final rates are decided and in most of the cases advance payments are demanded. For different destinations such as Amritsar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, New Delhi and for inter-state patients and within the state ambulance service providers charge Rs 10,000 to Rs 75,000.
There is no nodal agency or authorised officer deputed by the GMC or the State Health Department for district hospitals to help the needy patients in difficult times and prevent them from falling in to the hands of greedy transporters. The situation within the State also paints a grim scenario as large number of patients from remote and hilly districts are shifted to capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar after spending huge sums of money. There is no regulatory authority which supervises the functioning of the critical care ambulances and check credentials of para medics who accompany critically ill patients. Mushrooming of ambulance service providers in connivance with the health administrators has so far gone unchecked and denting the image of the Health Department at large.
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