Endless wait: Patients at the CGHS dispensary at Avadi.
The CGHS (Central Government Health Scheme) dispensary in suburban Avadi is a busy place, catering to nearly 350 patients every day. But, it is in dire need of an upgrade, senior citizens and residents say, complaining that long queues and the time taken for reimbursements are causing great hardships.
As thousands of serving and retired Central government employees stay in and around Avadi, the dispensary was established in 2006.
Consumer activist T. Sadagopan says there aren’t enough doctors and paramedical staff to handle the large flow of patients. “In reply to my RTI [Right to Information] petition, the Public Information Officer said that four to five doctors had been appointed for “busy” CGHS dispensaries such as those in Avadi and Perambur. But, only three doctors are currently working in Avadi.”
On an average, it takes a month for the patients to consult the specialist of internal medicine after they register, he adds.
Over 9,000 patients availed the services offered by the dispensary in each of the last two years, the reply to the petition states. One doctor was drafted for duty at the airport for A(H1N1) influenza screening, while another left for higher studies this year, according to Mr. Sadagopan.
K. Sampath, president, Ordnance Factories and Allied Establishments Pensioners’ Association, Avadi, says: “The doctors are struggling to serve the patients.” Referring to the reply to the RTI petition, he adds: “While other dispensaries in the city at Guindy, Nandambakkam and R.A. Puram treat less than 100 patients a day, here they have to handle 350.”
He says there are also no diabetologists and ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialists. “We have been representing for a polyclinic to be opened here. Now, we have to go to Anna Nagar or K.K. Nagar for those services.”
STS Murthy, vice-president of the association, says computerisation of the facilities introduced a month ago has compounded the problem.
“The doctors do not seem to know how to use the new system and this is causing delays.”
He adds that delay in payment for medicines has resulted in suppliers stopping medicines to the dispensary. “Now we have to buy medicines outside and wait for over three or four months to get the bills reimbursed.”
Nearly 20 per cent of the patients in the city going to CGHS dispensaries use the Avadi facility.
The residents feel that there could be re-direction of resources from other dispensaries in the city.
Mr. Sampath suggests that an insurance scheme for the CGHS beneficiaries will be preferable.
THE CONCERN DEPARTMENT HAS TO TAKE AN ALTERNATIVE ARRANGEMENT REGARDING THIS.