ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 27
Kandy Times

Striking hospital workers and the never- ending suffering of patients

November 22, was yet another Clinic Day at the Cardiology Unit of the Kandy General Hospital. More than 250 cardiac patients were gathered at the clinic from 7 a.m. seated in the numbered seats, awaiting their turn to see the doctors in the three consultation rooms after 8 a.m.

The attendants collected the clinic books brought by the patients and the nurses who came in around 7.30 a.m. sorted out the books and then distributed them to the patients who were awaiting their turn to see the doctors. The doctors spend about 10 minutes on each patient and some are sent to the E.C.G. Room for fresh E.C.Gs to be taken. They are then sent back to the nurses who allocate a number for the next clinic day and the patients are sent to the pharmacy where there are long queues from other clinics too, to collect the drugs prescribed. Some of these patients come from distant places and even stay overnight in the waiting halls to be able to attend the clinic at the time allocated. Since only the patient is allowed access to the clinic those who accompany the patient have to wait (rain or sun) outside on the pavement.

After all these difficulties the patients find that the pharmacy is closed as those in charge have gone on strike. The patients then are compelled to go to private pharmacies and buy the drugs at exorbitant prices.

The Health Minister is making speeches about the efficiency of the Health Services and the Mahinda Chinthanaya, but what is the use if the government salary-paid hospital staff are unable to meet the simple needs of the poor people. Most of the drugs prescribed are also not available at the government pharmacies. But that's another story. Even the few available drugs are not dispensed as the pharmacists are on strike.

I recall the time that Dr. Beligaswatte was the Head of the Kandy Hospital, he used to be always on the move looking into all aspects of work, building projects, landscaping, supervision of staff in all departments. Strikes were never heard of. Over to you Mr. Minister.

By James Coomarasamy

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.