JDWNRH faces patient dissatisfaction over special consultation token system

In a bid to enhance healthcare services and alleviate congestion during regular hours, the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) resumed its Special Consultation Services (SCS) in October 2023. However, while patients appreciate the extended consultation hours with specialists, there is growing discontent with the token system in place.

Tashi Wangmo, a frequent visitor to SCS due to her tight schedule, expressed frustration.

She said “Usually for SCS, what we usually do is call beforehand for an appointment. For many times, I thought the call meant getting a number or something to be first for the consultation; however, that’s not the case. We have to come early, before 4 pm to get in a queue and get a token, which is quite unfair.”

She added, “I think having a token system later on beats the purpose of calling in early and making an appointment early on.”

Another patient, who encountered the token system during his second visit to SCS said, “During my first SCS, I did not know about the token system in place, and I thought calling for an appointment meant securing a spot. I took off from work early, but after reaching there, I found out it was late, and the queue was long to get in.”

Upon inquiry about first come first service provided to patients during the SCS, a practicing resident, clarified, “No, it is a token system, the patients need to come in and get a token from the counter, and the doctors usually call according to the number. Some patients expressed concern, believing they were delayed due to longer consultations with others.”

Upon inquiry, she agreed that the patient seemed to frustrated due to the token system that they needed to go through.

Responding to the dissatisfaction, Medical Superintendent, Dr Sonam Tshering, reassured the public and he said that he was not made aware of patient’s dissatisfaction with token system, and would take a look at it.

At the same time people tend to believe SCS meant a better service for them to which Dr Sonam Tshering clarified. He said, “There is nothing so different about the SCS than the regular services we provide during the day. The quality of the service provided is the same, as we cannot compromise on the quality of service to people at all times. During SCS, you get a longer time for consultation.”

He said that if SCS were to compromise the quality of medical care provided during the day, they would discontinue the service.

The service charges for various patient and non-patient consultation services range from Nu 100 to Nu 5,000, covering about 150 different services.

Interestingly, the fee for SCS was introduced initially to attract specialists due to their shortage. Despite the current availability of enough doctors, the fee has been increased to ensure continued specialist presence during SCS hours. As the amount which was paid earlier was not much when divided among the doctors and staff.

Service charges for SCS cover the entire spectrum of medical services provided during regular hospital hours. The SCS period is from 4 pm to 7 pm on weekdays and from 2 pm to 5 pm on Saturdays, offering patients extended access to specialized healthcare.

As patient dissatisfaction grows over the token system, JDWNRH may need to reconsider its approach to ensure a smoother and more transparent process for accessing SCS. Balancing the convenience of extended consultation hours with fair and efficient appointment procedures will be crucial to maintain the hospital’s commitment to providing quality healthcare services.

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