The dust has not yet settled on the public inconvenience and outcry over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country’s premier health centre All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi for a routine check-up on August 24. As the PM’s security enforced an unprecedented clampdown, patients and attendants were left fuming.
But medical superintendent Dr DK Sharma insists “there was minimal inconvenience of a few minutes” in an interview to Upasna Pandey.
There has been a lot written about the recent visit of the prime minister to the AIIMS. What is your stance on VVIP treatment at the hospital?
At the AIIMS, we don’t differentiate between the poor and the privileged patients. The quality of care and treatment for all is the same but there are people who are designated VIPs and VVIPs -- some may have a perceptible security threat or are people who run on tight time schedules -- for whom we need to make arrangements to manage their treatment.
What arrangements were made for the PM?
There is an earmarked area in the hospital for the PM and he does not move around the campus. The inconvenience caused to public and hospital employees was only limited to the time of the PM’s arrival and departure post his examination. This would have lasted a few minutes. Barring this, the hospital functioned normally throughout the day. However, I cannot speak about the inconvenience caused to public outside the hospital because of security arrangements.
How does the hospital cater to VVIP patients to ensure least inconvenience to the public?
AIIMS is the designated care centre for a few VVIPs and we make efforts to segregate them from the general public. Doctors attend to them either before or after OPD timings, which see a huge public rush. These VVIPS can include Union ministers, MPs, state and union government officials, among others.
There are doctors who make a periodic visit to the PM’s residence and he also receives everyday care from a team of CGHS doctors. So there are limited occasions when he needs to visit AIIMS. He was here that Sunday for an eye and other routine examinations.
Should there be a separate medical centre to cater to VIP and VVIPs to avoid inconvenience to the public?
I am not sure this would be very practical. I think we need to have more AIIMS-like centres across the country to manage the overall pressure of patients. We are presently trying to do the best we can given the set up.
What is the long term solution to the issue of managing large number of patients?
The main strength of a premier medical institute like AIIMs is the large number of patients we attend to, as our doctors get wide variety of clinical material and rich exposure to a host of diseases. But it is also a huge reason for constant pressure on the hospital, as it is a task to manage the overcrowding.
The Union government has shared plans for setting up AIIMS-like hospitals across all states, which is a welcome decision. We expect this would help take away the patient load on AIIMS which is currently the only one-of-its-kind medical facility in the country. I expect that the overall healthcare delivery will improve further in the coming years; there is already high focus on health as a sector.
Image: Prime Minister Narendra Modi