Elders pushed back at National Hospital

Elderly people seeking treatment from a special counter at the National Hospital in Colombo are being forced down the queue as corrupt hospital staff, fill up the space with others in exchange for a fee while the officials look on, a patient alleged yesterday.

W.B. Milton Perera, a pensioner and a heart patient told The Sunday Times that the counter was specially created by the authorities for those over the age of 60 but this area was crowded with younger patients with the help of errant minor staff at the hospital.

W.B. Milton Perera

Repeated complaints made to the relevant officials have fallen on deaf years and the situation remains unchanged to date. “Special identity cards issued by the authorities to the elderly patients are also disregarded,” Mr. Perera, an active member for the People’s Movement for the Rights of Patients (PMRP) said.

He said the pharmacist at this particular counter was also rude and did not help out in prescribing the particular drug that had to be purchased from the outside leaving the patients clueless.

“Get that information from the doctor, he told me on my last visit to the hospital on Thursday,” Mr. Perera added. National Hospital Director Dr. Hector Weerasinghe said he would look into the matter, but believed it may not be happening all the time.

“The other problem is that there are too many patients and only a limited number of pharmacists and therefore these people are stretched to the maximum,” he said.

He explained that thousands of patients from the outstations were flocking to the National Hospital, though hospitals close to their residences had the necessary drugs. Therefore there was a big crowd at the National Hospital.

“Perhaps they feel that the drugs at the National Hospital are of a better quality, but this is not the case. Hundreds of patients from Colombo also flock to the National Hospital when there are major hospitals in the suburbs with the same drug,” Dr. Weerasinghe said

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