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PESHAWAR: The health department is in the process of setting up clusters of health facilities across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the treatment of patients in own areas, say officials.

The officials told Dawn that a strong patient referral system was on the cards covering basic health units, rural health centres, tehsil and district headquarters hospitals at district level for provide care to patients on their doorstep.

They said the patients bypassing the referral system won’t get treatment at government facilities.

The officials said a comparison was underway between the standard health services and the prevailing facilities in the province’s hospitals for ensuring provision of basic healthcare to the people.

Officials say services, need for improvement being assessed for patient referral system

“We are in the process of compiling a report about the situational analysis of the existing services and fill gaps regarding staff shortage at village and tehsil hospitals. We are ascertaining the level of services and need for improvement prior to putting in place a strong referral system,” director-general (health services) Dr Arshad Ahmad Khan told Dawn.

The DG said the exercise being done as part of formulating the province’s first-ever health policy was meant to upgrade services at local health outlets so the patients didn’t visit tertiary hospitals in cities.

He said in the absence of a patient referral system, people were in the habit of visiting tertiary hospitals for minor problems and thus, adversely affecting the treatment of critically-ill people.

“Two meetings with district health officers and medical superintendents of hospitals have taken place to collect data and seek suggestions on improvement of primary health services and development of a mechanism for sending patients to secondary and tertiary hospitals through proper channel,” he said.

Dr Arshad said patients would start visiting facilities once they came to know about service improvement there.

He said the department had decided to delegate administrative and financial powers to the local hospitals to speed up their work and the people receive interrupted services.

The DG said currently, local hospitals had to contact DHOs for small repairs, which took time and as a result, people suffered.

“Following the transfer of powers, the local authorities will take own decisions instead of seeking approval of high-ups,” he said.

Dr Arshad said initial reports indicated that there were issues of shortage of staff in Dir, Kohistan and other areas, which could be overcome after delegating powers DHOs and MS to empower them to hire people from the market in accordance with their needs.

“This model of devolution of powers to the grassroots level was successful in KP and Punjab in the past where services showed betterment,” he said.

The DG said the department was collecting information about absenteeism and initiating action against diligent staff.

He said the anti-measles campaign went smoothly as no incident of side-effects or adverse reaction of vaccination had not been reported.

“The situation is not that bad but we need to deploy staff and services in a rational way,” he said.

Dr Arshad said the upcoming health policy would set goals to enforce the government’s policy through field activities.

“The Health Sector Reforms Unit is spearheading making health policy to expand and improve health services and upgrade medical education in the province in collaboration with development partner organizations and stakeholders,” he said.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2018

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