LAHORE - The public hospitals in the provincial metropolis are grappling with serious problems owing to low capacity to accommodate the constantly increasing load of patients in the outdoors as well as in emergency wards. The acute shortage of paramedical staff, doctors and equipment in 36 District Headquarter Hospitals all over Punjab is the major factor, which is compelling patients and their relatives to rush to the hospitals in provincial capital, paralyzing working in the hospitals here. Sources in the health department revealed that despite expansion of hospitals and provision of more beds, the hospitals are unable to cater to the needs of growing number of patients in the city where population is feared to be double in the next 10 to 20 years, due to increase in local population and urbanisation. On account of load of patients the emergency wards of all public hospitals are discharging patients from emergency wards even before full recovery to spare beds for new patients. Now it is a common phenomenon in all public hospitals that two patients are asked to share one bed due to shortage of beds and to create space for new patients in the wards. There are 15 public hospitals and 114 private hospitals and clinics in the city of 10 million people and still people have to wait whole day in the queues for taking a prescription from a doctor in public hospitals. Official sources confided to The Nation that in most of the cases even deserving (critical) patients are failed to get timely accommodation in the wards from the emergency ward due to the shortage of space and in that event doctors are obliged to just prescribe for him medicines with the suggestion to continue treatment at home. According to sources in each public hospital in the City an average 1,500 to 2,000 patients daily visit Outdoor Patients (ODP) and 700 to 1000 patients are admitted to the emergency ward for medical and surgical treatment of normal and complicated diseases. In Lahore General Hospital Lahore (LGH) alone about 2,000 patients daily visit the Outdoor patient ward (OPD) for check up and most of them return home disappointedly after waiting in queues for hours outsides the OPD. While in the LGH emergency ward, about 1,300 to 1,500 emergency patients are brought in 24 hours. In a survey conducted by The Nation it was known that in the Children Hospital, about four babies are sharing one bed in the wards due to rush of patients. In the outdoor of Children Hospital about 800 old patients and 1,200 new patients visit daily with the hope of quality medical facilities but the fact is that they add up their misery later when they are trapped in the long queues to see a doctor. The doctors in the children hospital do not have time to relax for a moment. In all 15 public sector hospitals including Service Hospital, Mayo Hospital, Jinnah Hospital, Lady Wallington Hospital, Sheikh Zayed Hospital, Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Ganga Ram Hospital almost 4,000 patients visit daily in outdoor ward and in the emergency wards. If we take the example of Mayo Hospital, it has capacity of 2000 beds but only 35 to 50 patients are admitted in the wards from the amongst the critical patients due to lack of space in the wards. It has been learnt the patients are given a basic treatment for 24 hours and they are discharged by the doctors just next day in the cases patients are able to walk on their feet. Secretary Health Punjab Anwaar Ahmad Khan while talking to The Nation said Punjab government is trying to build new hospitals and upgrade tehsil and district headquarter hospitals so that patients from the districts could be provided treatment facilities at their doorsteps. He said, An amount of Rs36 billion has been allocated to build new hospitals and upgrade Tehsil headquarters hospitals and District headquarters hospitals so that patients of other towns may get treatment facilities in their respective tehsils and districts. He admitted that there is huge rush of patients in public hospitals and said Punjab government is trying to improve health facilities infrastructure all over the province. He admitted that population of Lahore may be double in few years and if health facilities are not upgraded the available hospitals will prove insufficient for the population of Lahore. Punjab Government is doing best to provide healthcare to the citizens and has also taken a number of measures to improve the existing situation, yet the growing population and influx of patients from rural areas is continuing to keep up pressure on the public hospital, the health secretary concluded.