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PESHAWAR: The chronically-ill and complicated patients suffer at the teaching hospitals for lack of space as the residents of other districts continue to visit the Peshawar-based healthcare institutions without being referred properly, according to sources.

The statistics of patients visiting Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar became known when the administration decided that all the ailing people coming to OPD would be issued chit after showing their Computerised National Identity Cards to streamline the record.

Under the mechanism adopted on January 1, 2018, the patients were issued ‘medical record number’ to facilitate online availability of all details about their investigation and treatment. It also revealed that 80 per cent visits were unnecessary because services for the treatment of the diseases, for which they visited LRH, were available in their respective districts.

Health experts say 90pc patients can be treated at district level

“This adversely affects those patients, who genuinely require tertiary care services, due to shortage of beds and space at the OPD,” said sources. The patients coming to emergency department are exempted from presenting their CNICs and get immediate treatment.

The eight-month data obtained from January 1 to August 30 shows that 1,450,508 patents turned up for registration at the OPD of LRH, the biggest hospital of the province.

They included 1,589,858 patients from Peshawar; 25,865 from Charsadda; 11,588 from Nowshera; 10,903 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir; 8,656 Afghan refugees; 7,308 from Mardan; 7,207 from Swat; 6,182 from Dera Ismail Khan; 5,272 from Dir Upper; 5,154 from Mansehra; 3,080 from Lower Dir and more than 500 patients from each district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A total of 97,800 patients were admitted to the 1,650-bed hospital for treatment of different ailments.

The number of hospitalised patients during the corresponding period showed that 93,178 of them belonged to KP; 2,725 to Fata; 465 to Azad Jammu and Kashmir; 368 to Punjab; 290 to Afghanistan; 81 to Balochistan; 328 to Gilgit-Baltistan and 79 belonged to Sindh while the domiciles of the rest were unknown.

Of the hospitalised patients belonging to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 76,484 were from Peshawar; 4,222 from Charsadda; 1,682 from Mardan; 1,388 from Swabi; 1,374 from Swat; 2,132 from Nowshera; 688 from Bannu and more than 400 had come from each district of the province.

The situation at the other two teaching hospitals in Peshawar is not different as patients with minor illnesses come from far-off districts to visit those health facilities. LRH, which has increased the registration counters from 11 to 24 during the last one year, is facing a daunting challenge to cope with patients requiring specialised services due to load of cold patients. The hospital receives 10,000 patients in OPD and emergency daily and180 of them undergo major surgeries while 250 undergo minor surgeries.

The experts said that there were more than 1,500 health facilities in the province that offered primary, secondary and tertiary services to people. For primary services, people can be checked for minute ailments at basic health units and dispensaries, for secondary care hospitals with presence of eight to12 specialties can handle all kinds of cases while about 10 to 15 per cent specialties are required for tertiary care hospitals where medical research and major surgeries are carried out.

However, in most of the cases people don’t follow the chain and visit the tertiary hospitals directly and encroach upon the services meant for complicated and chronically ill patients.

The new registration system is linked with National Database Registration Authority where the patients can see their record anywhere by entering their MRN on CNIC number on the website of LRH. The system also ensures that no proclaimed offender, terrorist or criminal can get treatment at the hospital.

For security purposes, it has put brakes on the treatment of suspected people in line with National Action Plan.

“The flow of patients from other districts for locally manageable illness is depriving the seriously-sick people from treatment as they occupy the hospital’s beds and space at the operation theatre. The district level hospitals have facilities to cope with 90 per cent of the cases locally,” ” said health experts.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018