LAHORE  - Increasing patient load and lack of resources is shrinking space for the poor while available facilities are meant only for patients who pay as consultants are getting handsome amount as share from the cost of their treatment at Punjab Institute of Cardiology, TheNation has learnt.

Only protocol patients referred by Chief Minister Secretariat, Chief Executive of the Institute, Medical Superintendent and senior consultants can avail Indoor treatment facilities alongside paying patients while those having no resources can access only Emergency and Out Patients Department, insiders said.

Out of four Coronary Care Units, CCU-III is fixed for paying patients and CCU-IV is not functional as the Health Department has yet to provide manpower while there is verbal direction for doctors at Emergency not to shift poor patients to CCU-I and CCU-II.

“Seven bed CCU-III is only for paying patients. Collective capacity of CCU-I and CCU-II is 20 beds. PIC management has verbally instructed doctors at Emergency to refer only paying and entitled patients to CCU-I and CCU-II. As such majority of patients at CCUs are paying, entitled or protocol patients. There is no room for the poor patients at any of the CCU”, a doctor at Emergency said on the condition of not to be quoted.  Giving reasons of not accommodating the poor at CCUs, he said that not only surgeries but also treatment of paying and entitled patients earn share for clinical doctors and paramedical staff.

Chief Executive PIC Prof Bilal Zakriya admitted that there was formula to divide share among government, clinical doctors and paramedics.  “Money collected from the treatment of paying patients is divided according to a formula. 45 per cent goes to the government, 35 to clinical doctors and 20 per cent to paramedics”, he said. Insiders said that all doctors and allied staff was getting huge amount in addition to salaries.

“Head of Surgery Prof Waheed is getting Rs400,000 to Rs450,00 per month as share from treatment cost of paying patients, Prof Bilal Zakriya Rs 200,000 to Rs 250,000, Medical Superintendent Rs 100,000 to Rs 110,000, Additional MS Rs60,000 to Rs 80,000, DMS Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000, Senior Registrars Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 and Medical Officers Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000. Director Finance is getting Rs 50,000 to Rs 55,000 as share from treatment of paying patients”, insiders said, adding, there was no logic of earning huge money in addition to salaries and that too by using public sector infrastructure. 

Referring to miseries of poor patients at PIC, they said that the management has also banned angioplasty/stunting of symptomatic cardiac patients at Emergency or in same admission.  “We normally carried out angioplasty of symptomatic cardiac patient at Emergency to save his/her life. This practice has been banned one and a half year back”, said another doctor at Emergency, adding, this undue ban required discharge and fresh admission of a patient for lifesaving angioplasty. He said that category system was actually humiliation of the poor patients.

“Initially, patients are kept in paying category. The management, later, ask patients to fill privilege farms to come in the poor category. Those in the poor category are also not entitled to change consultants”, he said, adding, the poor category patients also face huge hardships in getting free medicines due to extra ordinary rush and long queues.  “Government has allocated Rs 690 million for medicines. Patients have increased by 20 per cent at the PIC and the prices of medicines also escalated at the same rate. Allocation for medicines has not been revised accordingly”, he said, adding this was increasing hardships of the poor patients. He said that there were long queues and the patients have to wait for months and even over a year for important tests and procedures.  “Waiting time for Angiography is 12-14 months, Echocardiography 14-16 months, Angioplasty 3-4 months and CT Angio 2-3 months”, he said.

As many as 600 to 600 patients visit 14 bed Emergency. The management has made it a 24 bed Emergency by placing stretchers and treating patients on wheel chairs. Though cardiac patients require most relax atmosphere, doctors even provide treatment on the floor.  The situation is the same at other departments. Total bed capacity of PIC is 370 including Angiowards, Emergency, CCUs, ICU, Jilani Block, Irfan Block, Pre Operation and private rooms. Emergency can refer patients only for 160 beds.