ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday December 16, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 29

Patients suffer due to faulty scanner

By Pushpakumara Jayaratna

The CT scanner installed at the Kurunegala teaching hospital is malfunctioning with the patients unable to obtain the required services from the machine amidst questions about the purchase of the equipment. The machine was installed two years ago by the Health Ministry as the hospital serves as the hub for patients coming from the North Central, Eastern and North Western provinces.

Soon after the machine was installed at a ceremony attended by Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva the machine went out of order for two months and additional money had to be spent to repair it. The machine installed at a cost of Rs. 50 million has regularly been out of order and patients who are set to undergo a scan have often been turned away delaying their treatment or prompting them to get it done at other hospitals including private hospitals.

The Sunday Times learns that the machine has not been purchased from its agents here but from a foreign source. More than Rs. 20 million is reported to have been paid additionally as a result. As a result of not purchasing the machine from the local agents the hospital authorities have to wait for technicians to arrive from India to carry out the repairs. Only a limited number of patients are provided an opportunity to use the facility and other patients are referred to Kandy or Colombo hospitals.

However, Kurunegala teaching hospital director Dr. Ananda Gunasekara denied that the machine was substandard and that it was experiencing technical failures. He said that earlier lightning had struck the machine and it was out of order but the fault was corrected soon.

Dr. Gunasekara said that the machine was not being put into operation after 6.00 p.m. as no qualified doctors and technicians in the specified field were available after that time, but added the Health Ministry had been notified about it and a request made for additional staff. But hospital sources as well as patients told The Sunday Times that the patients were not able to get the full benefits of the machine due to technical problems.

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