The OPD services at Centre-run facilities — Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital — here will now also be open on Sundays, the health ministry has said, with the move drawing sharp reactions from various doctors” associations on Saturday.
A directive was issued by the Union Health ministry on October 7 in this connection, and to begin with, selected specialities will be open at these three major hospitals.
“As per instructions from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, it has been decided to open Out Patient Department (OPD) services in the hospitals on Sundays also,” an official order by Director of Lady Hardinge Medical College and Hospital, Ram Chander stated.
The OPD services of the departments which would be open are paediatric medicine, medicine, surgery, gynaecology OPD and orthopaedics, the order stated. The OPD registration timings will be from 8 am to 11.30 am, and the OPD timings will be from 9 am to 1 pm.
“Pharmacies will also be open on all seven days. Emergency lab services will be available for patients requiring urgent investigations,” the health ministry communication directive stated.
The pharmacy counters will be open for distribution of drugs, and lab services will be available for patients requiring investigations.
“It should also be noted that these facilities are to be started with existing manpower,” the office order stated.
Similar orders were issued by Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) and Safdarjung Hospital authorities.
Meanwhile, various doctors” associations including FORDA (Federation of Resident Doctors Association) and FAIMA (Federation of All India Medical Associations) protested the move and issued statements, saying doctors are already overburdened, and now they will have to come to these hospitals on Sundays too.
“#FAIMA Strongly oppose opening of Sunday OPDs in Hospitals Already #Overburdened Doctors now have to come on sunday too without any extra allowance being paid to them. Requesting @MoHFW_INDIA Kindly Stop this exploitation of your Corona Warriors,” the FAIMA tweeted.
Both FORDA and FAIMA on Saturday said they have written to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on the issue.
“There needs to be at least one day in a week for resident doctors to get some necessary rest, manage their personal lives and take care of the responsibilities towards their families. Due to the stressful nature of work as healthcare professionals, not taking adequate rest or time away from work to rejuvenate, will also affect patientcare adversely,” the FORDA letter reads.
“We would hereby like to request you to kindly consider the above-mentioned issue, and withdraw the direction of starting the non-emergency OPD services on Sundays at the earliest,” it said.
These three facilities are among the busiest hospitals of Delhi.
In the communication to the heads of all these three hospitals, the health ministry has said, “Initially, Sunday OPD will be started in Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Hardinge Medical College and Associated Hospitals and Dr RML Hospital without any additional financial implication.
“The hospitals will manage Sunday OPD with existing manpower and will submit the comprehensive proposal with detailed financial implication after 02-03 months after getting feedback/inputs from concerned departments, other hospitals and general public,” it said.
According to the ministry directive, this facility/service shall be initiated from October 9, 2021 on trial basis and formal launch be planned on next Sunday, that is, October 17.
The hospitals are requested to widely publicise the initialisation of this facility to enable the people to know and therefore attend the launch of the facility soon, it stated.
A circular by RML hospital CMO and in-charge (OPD) Dr Sunil Saxena, issued on October 8, said, “In reference to office order dated 07/10/2021, of Medical Superintendent, Dr RML Hospital, following disciplines will run the Sunday OPD from their designated areas…
“This OPD will start from October 10. Registration timing will be 08:30 am to 11:30 am. Concerned HODs are hereby requested to provide monthly roster of their departments by e-mail,” it stated.
The Safdarjung hospital also issued a circular saying, “It has been decided to start OPD services on Sundays in the following specialities on a trial basis”.
“The specialities are medicine, general surgery, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics, Eye, ENT, urology. Besides, Emergency Lab Services will be available for patients requiring urgent investigations in NEB (New Emergency Block),” it said.