Jamshedpur, Dec. 30: The 400-bed government-run Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Medical College and Hospital has four ambulances at its disposal, but only Rs 1,000 for a year's supply of fuel to run them.
Yesterday, when a seriously ill Sabar tribal woman was referred to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) in Ranchi by the MGM doctors, it was left to trade union leader Rakeshwar Pandey to pay Rs 1,500 out of his own pocket to buy fuel for the ambulance that ferried the cardiac patient to the capital.
Last month, a 50-year-old was admitted to MGM Medical College and Hospital with grievous abdominal injures after being hit by an arrow.
The tribal patient from a remote Ghatshila village was referred to RIMS for surgery. Despite his deteriorating condition, the man was left writhing in pain for hours as none of the ambulances parked in the hospital premises had enough fuel to reach him to Ranchi.
As a senior medical officer on duty expressed his inability to help, it took the intervention of senior superintendent of police Akhilesh Kumar Jha to refuel the ambulance and rush the patient to Ranchi.
Instances of patients suffering due to lack of ambulances at MGM Medical College and Hospital are many, though the hospital has four ambulances, including one equipped with sophisticated equipment to ferry cardiac patients over long distances.
According to hospital superintendent S.S. Prasad, the crisis is due to non-allocation of funds for fuel.
"We have only been given Rs 1,000 as fuel cost for the ambulances for the current financial year, which is not enough to run the service even for a week," he said.
Prasad said after taking charge last year, he had written a number of times to the department of health for more funds to run the ambulance service, but to no avail.
"Every month, at least 10 patients are referred to RIMS. As we don't have money for fuel, we have to either accept donations from outsiders or force the poor patients to arrange the necessary expense," said Prasad.
He added that delay in sending patients for urgent treatment could result in deaths.
When contacted, joint secretary in the health department Dudheswar Prasad could not say why such a paltry sum had been kept aside for ambulance fuel in such a big hospital, nor could he recollect how much funds had been allotted to RIMS for the purpose.
"I will be able to throw light on the matter only after checking the documents," he said.
East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Himani Pande refused to believe that only Rs 1,000 had been allotted as fuel cost for a year.
However, she said she would comment after checking the facts for herself.source-telegraphindia.com