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Medical helpline to counsel patients,reduce rush at govt hospitals

To decongest state-run hospitals and provide better emergency medical care,the Delhi government will soon introduce a helpline — Triage Telephone — to counsel patients.

Written by Vidya Krishnan | New Delhi | Published: February 19, 2010 12:48 am

To decongest state-run hospitals and provide better emergency medical care,the Delhi government will soon introduce a helpline — Triage Telephone — to counsel patients.

The call centre will be similar to the Delhi emergency helpline 102,but will focus on counselling patients. According to the Health department,the call centre will be manned by trained paramedics and doctors.

“It will give patients information on the hospital that is the nearest to their location. The idea is to discourage patients from coming to hospitals with minor ailments that can be handled at home. We have already hired a transaction advisor,” J P Singh,Principal Secretary,Health,said.

The state government will run the call centre as a public-private partnership (PPP); the details are being ironed out,Singh added. The four components of this PPP are information education and communication activities,patient counselling,grievance redressal system and a triage telephone centre.

The Health department is already in the process of promoting a centralised emergency number,102,which will help streamline emergency medical care provided to road accident victims in particular.

“The objective is to reduce the response time and provide better pre-hospital medical care for accident victims. Once the system is introduced,we hope to save more lives. Reducing the

burden on hospitals will go a long way in providing better medical care to those admitted in a critical condition,” Singh added.

The government’s decision has,however,drawn flak for focussing on a centralised emergency number and call centres while the most crucial component for delivering emergency care — ambulances — have not been arranged so far.

Plans are afoot for a well-equipped call centre,a new emergency helpline and a fleet of 150 new ambulances that will reduce the emergency response time to 15 minutes before the Commonwealth Games.

But with the Fortis-Delhi government PPP falling apart,the state is now frantically trying to arrange for ambulances in time for the Games.

Under the PPP,Fortis Hospitals was to supply 150 ambulances to the state in time for the Commonwealth Games. The government served a termination notice to Fortis after the Health department found the ambulances of an ‘inferior quality’. With just 10 months to go for the Games,the state is likely to ‘rent’ ambulances as a last resort.

“This is a classic case of the state being caught napping. After almost seven inspections,the government could not ensure that the private partner met quality specifications. As a last-minute effort,the state will now hire ambulances at exorbitant costs,which will be borne by the tax payer,” a senior official in the Delhi Secretariat said on the condition of anonymity.

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