The Opposition party questioned the Health Minister, in the National Assembly yesterday, on how the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) is improving its overall services, such as effective treatment, less wait time for patients and economy of scale, especially now that JDWNRH has been granted autonomy,
The Nganlam MP, Choida Jamtsho, also asked about the procurement of drugs and equipment.
The Health Minister, Tandin Wangchuk, said that the health ministry had planned on granting autonomy to JDWNRH since 2010.
Lyonpo added that the main objective of the autonomy is to bring improvements in providing services, but as of now, the main hurdle is the inadequate human resource.
Given the current scenario, JDWNRH provides 21 specialist services to patients, half million out-patients are referred to abroad every year.
Lyonpo also added that they are working on resolving the human resources problem. He reported that there have in a change for the better,
especially in the attitude of the health workers and improved services, in JDWNRH after it gained its autonomy.
Lyonpo also added that the other outcome is the construction of a new perimeter, with all facilities and services, designated for children and women. At present, JDWNRH provides 30% of the hospital area for children and women.
Talking on the waiting time in JDWNRH, Lyonpo said that it is the daytime patients with general referral cases during 9am to 1pm that face the problem. He added the in-patients and those coming in with emergency cases do not face such a problem. Lyonpo added that the patients who need treatment for diabetes do not have to wait.
In addition, from 1 pm to 3 pm, Lyonpo said that there are not many patients for general referral cases, but only for the referral to specialist. Lyonpo said the Gynecology service has been shifted into a larger space where the patients are provided with a waiting area and do not stand in a queue.
On the challenge of human resource needs, Lyonpo said the government is consulting with the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) on increasing the number of staff.
For the effective treatment, Lyonpo said it could be resolved by hiring medical specialists from other countries, and also getting the in-country specialists to work on treatment plans, and also to refer the patients abroad.
The Khar Yurung MP, Zangley Dukpa, said JDWNRH, as a national referral hospital, consumes 40% of the drugs procured in the country. He expressed his concern on the difficulty faced in the procurement of drugs, as no specific quantity is reflected, and earlier issues, such as the involvement of doctors in the procurement of drugs.
Lyonpo Tandin Wangchuk said the ministry will study the economy of scale for procuring the drugs. The Pangbang MP, Dorji Wangdi, also said though the health service across the country is good, however, the lack of specialists and medical equipment, like CT-scan and MRI still persists.
MP Dorji Wangdi further added that although JDWNRH has been granted autonomy, however, it has not fulfilled the three mandates in the areas of funding, human resources, and administration and management. He said the health workers in JDWNRH are still under RCSC, and Health Minister is the Chairman of the JDWNRH, and there has been no change in funding.
The Health Minister said the government needs additional funds to procure more CT-scan and MRI machines. He said that as per the world statistics, the CT-scan or MRI ratio to people is one for 1mn people. Lyonpo said he Health Ministry and JDWNRH must work hand-in-hand to better the services.
Lyonpo added that if the staff in JDWNRH is made autonomous then it would affect the doctors in other dzongkhags. He said the ministry is looking at holding a yearly consultation meeting with all the stakeholders to address the issues.
The Nubi-Tangsibji MP, Nidup Zangpo, shared his concerns on the need for hospitality management, as carried out in the hotel management training, in hospitals. Lyonpo responded that the ministry is looking into such training to improve the quality of health care services.
The North-Thimphu MP, Kinga Tshering, said there is a need to grant autonomy to human resources in JDWNRH. He also added that there are inadequate numbers of health workers and this affects the waiting time for patients in JDWNRH.