Long queues of patients at PGIMER, Chandigarh, is not an uncommon sight at all. The department of Radio-diagnosis at the hospital witnesses longest queues with patients claiming to have been waiting for a few weeks to a few months to get their MRI scans done.
Balwinder Singh, a patient at new OPD said, “ I booked my appointment for getting an MRI test done in July in the month of May itself. We have been sitting here to get the tests done since 10 am and we still don’t know when will we be called inside.”
The huge costs associated with getting MRI tests done anywhere else hits poor patients the hardest. Amrit Pal, an attendant with a patient said, “If you don’t get this test done at PGI and instead get it done somewhere else, the cost is around Rs 9,000, while at PGI, an MRI costs hardly Rs 2,000. There is a huge difference in cost for someone who struggles to make their ends meet every month. We are left with no choice but to wait.”
The issue is not just restricted to limited availability of dates for booking appointments. Patients allege that the appointment dates are given on the basis of the severity of one’s condition. Mamta, an assistant with a patient said, “ If getting an MRI test done is not an urgency in your case, you not be given a closer appointment. They wait for your health to deteriorate.”
A patient in Nehru Hospital, on the condition of anonymity, fumed, “ How can they decide who needs it first or who doesn’t? What if a poor patient like me dies during the waiting period? Will they take responsibility for my death because they delayed a basic MRI and failed to start my treatment on time?”
“My father was detected with cancer. PGI made an appointment for him getting MRI scans three months from the day of booking. We had no choice but to get the MRI scans done at a private hospital. My father’s treatment is ongoing” said Harneet while waiting in a queue at the new OPD to book an appointment from himself and his mother.
Patients say that at the Nehru Hospital in PGIMER, the delay in appointment date from the date of booking is 15-20 days maximum, while at the new OPD, patients have to wait for months.
Dr. Jagat Ram, director at PGIMER, on being asked about the long wait for getting MRI done at PGI, said, “Money has been sanctioned to the Department of Radiodiagnosis and we are even planning to purchase 4-5 new machines. We will also be needing staff to run those machines.”