It has become a tradition to put all the blames of issues of Healthcare System on Doctors. A war-like situation is presented on all forums whenever doctors go on strike. Nobody cares to understand the problems they are facing. A massive rhetoric is launched against them to put a blanket on shortcomings of the healthcare system. There might be incidences of negligence or misconduct on part of a few Doctors but to put the blame of entire malfunctioning of healthcare system on doctors is not only unjust but also condemnable.
An important issue of the healthcare system in terms of misconduct and misbehavior of paramedical and supporting staff working in government hospitals is always ignored. Whenever patients and their attendants complain about doctors, everyone lashes out at Doctors but when Patients scream at brutal behavior of paramedics, all the healthcare machinery, and others focus on hushing up the matter and this thing has turned these Paramedical and Supporting Staff including dispensers, nurses, technicians, assistants, laboratory attendants, counter boys and sweepers into true Lords of Hospitals.
Our people, first, need to understand operational dynamics of Government Hospitals. Hospitals are run by three separates but interconnected bodies. First of all, there is administration run by a few Doctors on administrative posts as Medical Superintendent, Additional Medical Superintendent, and Deputy Medical Superintendents. These guys are meant only for administration. They don’t check patients in hospital premises. They are just responsible for implementing Government Healthcare Policies or Instructions as given by higher authorities of Health Department.
Second, there are practicing doctors, working in different departments according to hospital capacity like Medicine, Surgery, Gynecology, Pediatrics, Cardiology, Ophthalmology, and much more. These guys, either senior or junior, are the real backbone of healthcare delivery system. Unfortunately, these guys are mostly in the crosshairs of society despite being overwhelmed by Patients’ overload.
Third, there is paramedical staff and supporting staff working as Technicians, Assistants, Nurses, Receptionists, and Sweepers. They do have their role in serving the patients according to their cadres but their influence in government hospital affairs is far above their serving role. As an ordinary citizen, most of us have experiences of visiting Government Hospitals. Me too, have visited different Government Hospitals many times and observed a lot of issues there but a few days back when I have to visit my hometown District Headquarter (DHQ) Hospital Chakwal for my Eyes Checkup, a few incidences forced me to pledge to write on this serious issue in future. Being a journalist, main focus of my research and analysis remained International Affairs because I have done my Masters in International Relations but that indecent and perilous experience has forced me to steer my Articles towards such issues prevailing at our Government Hospitals.
I was suffering from a Viral Infection of Eyes that was contagious. I was told by my Doctor that it could be spread to other persons at your working place. For some legal purpose, I needed a medical certificate from Medical Superintendent, so I have to visit DHQ Chakwal at that time. There were long rows of Patients on a few counters assigned to give initial slip for checkups. I was surprised that slips for departments having less patient load like Ophthalmology were also being issued by same counter from where slips for overburdened departments like Medicine and Surgery were being issued. I tried to realize the receptionists about this issue but their response was just like as someone has hit the comb of honeybees. Anyhow, I got slip for checkup at Ophthalmology department after a long struggle and wait.
Then I visited Ophthalmology (Eye)Outpatient Department (OPD) of aforesaid hospital. As I expected earlier, there was no rush at Eye OPD. A few patients were present and on duty Doctors were checking them politely. On my turn, I got checkup by Eye Specialist and he, too, advised me rest for seven days.
Now only a small thing was left i.e., to get my slip countersigned by Medical Superintendent. I was thinking that it would be a petty matter but my expectations turned wrong when I reached Administration Block to meet Medical Superintendent (MS). On my first observation I saw a few goons talking bitterly with patients outside MS Office. Later I came to know that these are paramedics meant for assisting MS and solving issues of Patients. From their behavior or misbehavior they seem to be dealing with some enemy forces. Meanwhile, I observed that a lot of paramedics are going in with their known patients and getting their required papers signed. I did not realize those attendants at MS Office that I am also related to News and Media. I requested them to get my slip also signed by MS but they turned hostile and asked me to wait silently. When I tried to realize them that with infected eyes, I can’t wait for long outside and many paramedics are already getting documents of their known patients signed by MS, one of the attendant went in with my slip and came back outside with message that Madam (MS) is going for some meeting. On return, she will evaluate your Medical Prescription.
After that, I have to wait for hours for the return of ‘Madam’ but she didn’t come back. Whenever I, myself, and other patients tried to realize the paramedics about our condition and sufferings, we met a brutal and hostile response from paramedics. I guessed that they can even beat the patients if they feel it necessary.I even tried to convince those goons that whenever a senior officer is busy in some long visit or meeting, he or she authorizes his junior officer for such routine small tasks but they knew only one thing that how to thrash poor patients. After a few hours when MS didn’t return and I started unbearable pain at my eyes, I left the hospital premises with a promise to myself that I will expose this matter after recovery that How our Hospitals are Hijacked by Misbehaving Male Paramedics and Administrative Position Holders.
Our Government is spending a lot of money on improving the conditions of hospitals. Their efforts are laudable but in my opinion there should also be some drive or campaign to improve the behavior of Paramedics. After all, they have to deal‘ailing humanity’ but their current behavior is undesirable even for ‘healthy humanity’.
Jawad Akram is a Political, Social, Strategic and International Affairs Analyst. He has done Masters in International Relations. He can be reached at email@example.com and tweets @jawad5677