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Alarm rings for ambulance overhaul

Ranchi, July 11: Barely three days after The Telegraph highlighted the pathetic state of ambulance services in Jharkhand, health minister Dinesh Sarangi today admitted that the critical utility was, indeed, in dire straits.

“I am not at all satisfied with the kind of ambulance service being provided by government hospitals. There is a lack of initiative and zeal on part of the officials concerned. At some places there are ambulances but no drivers or fuel. At other places there are drivers but no ambulances. If both are there, the initiative on the part of officials is missing,” the minister said. “The ambulance service is in a shambles and requires immediate overhaul.”

But Sarangi did not proceed beyond the castigating exercise and, apart from making yet another feel-good statement on his “commitment” to “improve” the ambulance services in Jharkhand, he did not unveil any concrete plans.

The minister has often expressed his troubles with health officials whose “inertia”, according to him, has stopped him in his tracks for improving health services in the state.

The Telegraph has highlighted how it is a Herculean task to get through to the ambulance service in government hospitals. In its second report published yesterday, The Telegraph provided a glimpse of eight modern ambulances rotting for more than six months behind the Nepal House secretariat, hidden from public view.

Health secretary P.P. Sharma had cited “some registration problems” and controversy over the brand of vehicles as the reason for the ambulances lying idle.

Of the three ambulances provided to Sadar Hospital in the capital, for instance, one is out of order. There are two drivers for the other two ambulances. Of the two drivers, one has been on long leave, leaving the hospital with only one driver who cannot work round-the-clock. So emergency cases can be attended to only when the driver is around.

Sources said the hospital originally had five drivers. But three of them have been attached with senior health officials.

At Rims, there are drivers but the person manning the ambulance telephone had no idea about the procedure of getting the vehicles.

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