Srinagar, Dec 1: Persistent referrals from rural hospitals are posing a significant challenge to Kashmir’s premier maternity speciality Lal Ded Hospital witnessing a staggering 38,013 referrals from 2020 to October 2023.
This surge in referrals has placed an immense burden on the healthcare facilities at the tertiary maternity health facility in Kashmir.
According to information obtained through an RTI filed by MM Shuja from LD Hospital management, the hospital recorded 11,214 referrals in 2020, 9,802 in 2021, 9,306 in 2022, and 7,691 till October 2023.
The influx of patients from far-flung areas is taking a toll on the healthcare deliverance at the Lal Ded Hospital, the largest tertiary care Gynecology and Obstetrics facility in Kashmir.
Maternity care in the region heavily relies on Lal Ded Hospital, and the increasing number of referrals is straining its resources. Despite a slight dip in referral cases, the numbers remain alarmingly high, prompting concerns about the need to strengthen the rural healthcare system.
“Unless patients in rural areas are treated at their respective places unless in some critical cases, the healthcare system in Kashmir will continue to remain overburdened. Though there has been a dip in the number of referral cases to LD Hospital, the number is still too high considering the fact that the rural healthcare system needs to be strengthened,” said a medico at LD Hospital.
In response to the escalating issue, the Health Department Kashmir has issued orders to conduct night rounds in rural hospitals. The aim is to prevent unnecessary referrals to tertiary care hospitals, which have become routine in the valley.
The directive comes from the Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir Government, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, who emphasised the need to decongest tertiary care institutions.
“In light of the directions given by the Chief Secretary, UT J&K, it is impressed upon all the Chief Medical Officers/Medical Superintendents of Kashmir division to take night rounds of all the hospitals falling under their jurisdiction,” stated the order from DHSK.
Health officials are tasked with ensuring that unnecessary referrals are avoided, preventing a rush of patients to tertiary care hospitals. Furthermore, the health department has mandated the submission of a list of patients referred to tertiary care hospitals on a fortnightly basis, with comprehensive details of the patients and the reasons for referral.
Despite claims of rural healthcare upgrades, tertiary care hospitals in Srinagar, serving as main referral units, remain overburdened. Over 40,000 patients are referred from district and rural health facilities to these hospitals annually, adding stress to an already strained healthcare system. The measures taken by the Health Department aim to alleviate this strain and streamline healthcare delivery in the region.