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Move to privatise facilities opposed

SUCI WORKERS DEMONSTRATE AT CAPITAL HOSPITAL IN BHUBANESWAR AGAINST HANDING OVER OF DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES OF THE HOSPITAL TO A PRIVATE COMPANY. PICTURE BY ASHWINEE PATI

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 13: A protest was staged on the premises of Capital Hospital today by SUCI workers, students and intellectuals against the proposed move to privatise the diagnostic services alleging that outsourcing of the services would result in hardships for patients.

However, health department officials allayed the apprehensions. “The outsourcing will help people, as no patient will have to go outside the hospital premises for diagnostic services. This has been done according to a decision taken by the Centre. Hind Laboratories, a subsidiary of the Hindustan Latex Limited, will be taking up the charge,” said an official.

At present, in district headquarters hospital and even in medical colleges, many tests are referred to external agencies. But this has to stop according to the new Central guidelines. This will also help people to have their tests done on a single campus.

Alleging that the protests were orchestrated by “vested interests” who are responsible for sending patients to the diagnostic centres outside the hospitals, health secretary Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra said: “There will be provision in future to punish doctors who advise patients to go to outside agencies to conduct pathological and radiological tests. The company, after taking up the task to conduct the diagnostic services across the state, will invest on the additional diagnostic equipment and the fees will be collected according to the specification of the Rogi Kalyan Samitis (patient welfare committees).”

However, the protesters alleged that outsourcing of the public sector unit (PSU) company would render the present technicians jobless.

Responding to this allegation, the health secretary said: “The allegation is totally baseless. There is a need of more technicians and expert hands as the Centre has wished to hand over the diagnostics services to the Central PSU in all states. This will, on other hand, create more employment opportunities in Odisha’s health sector.”

A senior health official at the Capital Hospital on condition of anonymity said: “The provision of free diagnostic services for the poor and needy will get hampered with the outsourcing. Either the hospital will be paying for the expenses of the poor or the poor have to pay for their tests. So, without thinking about the needy, the introduction of this service will be difficult. At present, the city-based hospital is helping more than 20 patients in getting free diagnostics service.”

The state government has decided to bring in eight hospitals, including the Capital Hospital and SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack, by March next year under the outsourcing ambit. After that 10 other district headquarters hospitals will be brought under its umbrella by June to provide better diagnostic services.

Bhimsen Sahu, a local resident of Unit-VI (near Capital Hospital), said: “The proposal seems good as it is decided by the Centre, but its appropriate implementation is the most important factor. We hope all the diagnostic facilities within a single hospital will bring in a sea change in the healthcare delivery scenario.”