TO MAKE healthcare access more convenient, especially for the poor, Chhattisgarh is all set to change the OPD timings in government health centres across the state — starting January 1, 2020.
The new system will include a break and two hours of service in the evening, a senior official said. Under the existing timings, OPDs are open from 9 am to 2 pm. The new slots will see them function from 9 am-1 pm, and reopen from 4 pm-6 pm in winter and 5 pm-7 pm in summer.
“This system will start from January 1 across urban and rural health centres. However, we haven’t changed the timing for medical colleges. We will deliberate on that,” Niharika Barik, Secretary (Health), told The Indian Express.
“From the patient’s point of view, if I am a manual labourer, I go for work in the morning and cannot go to the hospital… if I do, I lose a day’s remuneration. Now, I can come back by 3 or 4 pm and go for the evening OPD. It’s the same for someone who goes to office,” Barik said.
Health officials said the change will cater to the needs of doctors, too. “We are being accommodative towards doctors. We are asking them to come in the morning from 9 to 1, go for lunch and return in the afternoon,” Barik said.
The move is a first for Chhattisgarh and takes it past many other states, including West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Assam and J&K, which do not have such a facility. Gujarat’s Principal Secretary (Health) Jayanti Ravi said a similar schedule is being worked out in the state. “There is already some flexibility at health centres in urban areas where the OPD goes on till 5.30 pm or 6 pm depending on requirement. We would like to see how the Chhattisgarh experience works out,” Ravi said.
UP, too, is working on plans to offer evening OPDs, according to Director General, Medical Education, K K Gupta.
“We are working on it. At all the places where we started evening OPDs, it could not run for different reasons. It was started in Sir Sunderlal Hospital in BHU, Varanasi, and later closed. Similarly, it was started in King George Medical University in Lucknow, and closed. In the coming days, there will be evening OPDs in some of our prominent medical colleges,” said Gupta.
In Maharashtra, government-run hospitals continue to have morning OPDs. But in Mumbai, two civic dispensaries currently offer evening OPDs as part of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s move to offer the facility on a public-private partnership basis in 17 centres.
In the south, Tamil Nadu offers evening services while Kerala offers 24-hour OPDs in most taluk-level hospitals.
(Ritu Sharma in Ahmedabad, Avaneesh Mishra in Lucknow and Tabassum Barnagarwala in Mumbai & ENS)