Almost a crore has been spent from the state’s coffers on purchase of uniforms for patients of two health hubs in the capital. But the drive to shield patients against infections has proved futile.
On Friday, The Telegraph visited various wards of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) and Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH) only to find the uniforms lying unused at both the health hubs. About Rs 97lakh was spent to buy patients’ uniforms at PMCH and Rs 42lakh for the same purpose at NMCH in 2012. This has raised a question mark on the wisdom behind spending such a huge amount of public money.
Sources said the health department launched the scheme to protect indoor patients from infections.
Patients of various wards in both hospitals told this correspondent that they had not been provided any uniform and were clueless about any such scheme.
Manish (24), an attendant of a patient admitted in the F ward of PMCH’s Rajendra surgical block, wryly said: “When the bedsheets are missing from the cots here, how can we expect the hospital to provide uniforms to patients?”
He said the health department should check whether or not hospitals have fully utilised funds and bought uniforms for patients and why those are not in use. “Does the department’s responsibility end after giving funds to the hospital?” asked Manish, a resident of Arwal’s Baidrabad village.
Govind Kumar (19), another patient’s attendant in the same ward, said: “It is entirely the hospital administration’s responsibility to ensure the availability of uniforms for indoor patients. The hospital is to be blamed in case of failure. If the authorities didn’t want to provide us uniforms, then why were those bought at all? It could be that the entire amount was not spent on buying uniforms.”
Sudama Prasad (60), a patient at NMCH, said: “This is not a joke. How can the uniforms disappear from the hospital? The health department should investigate this matter on an urgent basis.”
A senior nurse at PMCH, speaking on condition of anonymity, had a bizarre explanation for the hospital not providing uniforms to indoor patients. “We have stopped providing uniforms to indoor patients because they don’t return it. At the time of discharge, we ask patients to return us the uniforms but they somehow smuggle those out. The high quality cotton of the uniforms must be a luring factor for patients.” The nurse showed around 50 uniforms for indoor patients stocked in a cupboard at the Rajendra surgical block.
Offering a different explanation, PMCH superintendent Amar Kant Jha Amar said: “Patients don’t want to wear the uniforms. We are helpless. Even skin department head RKP Choudhary recently took some uniforms from the store but later complained that patients were not very keen on wearing them.”
NMCH superintendent Shiv Kumari Prasad said: “Patients don’t want to wear uniforms and our nurses refuse to dress up the patients in uniforms. The children’s ward in-charge said the uniforms are suitable for adults and not for kids. The gynaecology department in-charge said expectant mothers find the uniform uncomfortable because of the tight elastic in the pyjamas. The surgery and burns ward in-charge also refused to take the dress citing similar reasons.”
Prasad added: “Some patients refuse to wear the uniform on the pretext that they have been worn by others. We have communicated our problem to the health department. Had it provided patients loose gowns instead of kurta pyjama, as most private hospitals do, the scheme would have found many takers.”
Social activist Guddu Baba has filed a PIL in high court requesting a directive on use of uniforms. Baba’s lawyer Surendra Kumar Singh said: “The matter is sub-judice. Hearing is expected to take place in the third week of November.”