PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health department has approved standard operating procedure (SOPs) for media coverage at the four teaching hospitals to improve healthcare delivery for critically-injured and ill people.
The SOPs, approved in a combined meeting of the health minister and members and chairmen of Board of Governors of the hospitals last week, will be applied to Lady Reading Hospital, Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar and Ayub Teaching Hospital, Abbottabad.
Each hospital will appoint media focal person to pass on the desired information to journalists and media will get access to specified area.
Focal persons will provide information to journalists and media will get access to specified area
Sources said that according to SOPs, the journalists, cameramen and photographers were not allowed go to the wards, operation theater, emergency department and laboratories for coverage. Prior permission from the competent authorities may be asked to have access to a certain department.
In case of natural disasters, suicide or bomb attacks, the nominated person will update reporters every three hours through briefings, press releases, short messaging service, tweets and other tool of communication.
The rush of journalists at the accident and emergency department of Lady Reading Hospital soon after bomb attacks, earthquakes or floods makes it difficult for the healthcare providers to take care of patients, who require prompt treatment.
According to the SOPs, the vehicles of TV channels will be allowed parking in a specified area and they would have no access to wards where patients’ care is affected. There is strict order that no one should be allowed to enter the accident and emergency department and hamper the treatment of people with bleeding wounds, head injuries and bone fractures.
Sources said that TV crews were often slammed by doctors, paramedics and nurses, who argued that those visits were unauthorised according to medical ethics and interrupted care of seriously wounded people.
A BoG member told Dawn that health workers had argued that TV cameramen aired live programmes from the hospitals, leaving little space for staffers to administer injections and desperately-needed fluids to the injured persons.
“All the hospitals have been asked to implement it,” he said.
The health workers also complained that delays were caused in life-saving procedures by unnecessary visitors to the areas prohibited under medical law, he said.
The BoG member said that chief minister, ministers and politicians should also quit the habit of turning to hospital, especially LRH, where the administration found it difficult to accord protocols to them.
“Their duty is to supervise healthcare efforts where lives of people stand at stake,” he said.
Sources said that before the enforcement of Medical Teaching Institutions Reforms Act 2015, those hospitals were managed by people on ad hoc basis and they gave access to media to the wards which were off-limits for them.
Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2016