No urgency about emergency: 800 new hospital beds still not in place

While the Health Ministry has cleared the addition of over 800 new beds in several hospitals, most are far from ready.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Published: November 25, 2014 1:40:08 am

Four fatal accidents within 48 hours on Sunday has again highlighted the widening gap between existing and required emergency services in hospitals.

While the Health Ministry has cleared the addition of over 800 new beds in several hospitals, most are far from ready.

The UPA government, in one of its last projects, had cleared the expansion of Safdarjung hospital — a 500-bed emergency ward block with over 200 ICU beds that would cost Rs 196.73 crore.

However, the ward, touted as the “biggest emergency ward in any government hospital”, may not be inaugurated any time before 2017 since regulatory approvals are pending, officials said. In fact, the expansion plan has been cancelled and changed several times since 2009.

An eight-floor new emergency block at AIIMS, with an additional 120 beds, has just been approved by the New Delhi Municipal Council and is still awaiting the green signal from Delhi Urban Arts Commission. This is part of the expansion plan of the hospital as was envisaged in 2012. The new ward will include 20 ICU beds.

Officials say construction for the project can begin early next year. “Delhi has been without a government for almost a year and clearances are getting more delayed than we expected. We can begin formalities for construction only after all clearances are given,” an official from AIIMS said.

A six-floor, 289-bed emergency block, is being constructed at Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. Spread over 80,000 sq feet, the project will include 34 ICU beds with ventilators and three operation theatres, and is expected to cost Rs 30 crore.

It was announced as part of the hospital’s expansion plans since 2010, but construction is “in its final stages” even four years later.

“The project was delayed because the Health Ministry had to first take the help from IIT-Delhi for structural safety of the building to meet required seismic safety standards. Approving the final design and getting fund allocations has delayed the project,” an official said.

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