As many as 13,656 medical cases have been referred by government hospitals to empanelled private hospitals for lack of facilities in the government set-up since October 2018, under the merged health care scheme.
The Central government’s ambitious Ayushman Bharat and the state’s Aarogya Karnataka which promised universal health insurance scheme were merged in October last, but the government hospitals are falling short of prerequisites and depend heavily on private hospitals.
According to sources from the Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust, procedures termed as complex secondary and tertiary treatments are not available in some of the district hospitals. When patients come with certain health complications, government doctors are forced to refer the patients to the nearest private empanelled hospitals.
For instance, complex secondary procedures in dentistry, obstetrics and gynaecology, orthopaedics, surgical gastroenterology, ophthalmology, urology, ENT and general surgery are referred to the private hospitals.
Under tertiary treatment, burns, cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, neonatal and paediatric surgery, neurosurgery, oncology and polytrauma, cases are usually referred to the nearest private hospitals.
Dr S Sajjan Shetty, joint director and in-charge of the merged health scheme, says although government hospitals cater to most of the primary health needs of the citizens, most of the district hospitals do not have 100% facilities to treat secondary and tertiary cases.
“New districts have been formed and taluk hospitals have been upgraded to district hospitals and it will take some time to create facilities here. Most of the secondary and tertiary treatments are available even in government hospitals located in Bengaluru and surrounding districts, but we cannot refer all the patients to come to Bengaluru.
So, if the treatment is not available in the neighbouring district hospitals, the patients are referred to the nearest private hospital,” Shetty said. He said when a patient is referred to a private hospital, the doctor only refers the patient and does not mention the name of the hospital, to avoid conflict of interest.
Another official from the Health Department said not all district hospitals lack facilities, some of them can perform knee-replacement surgeries and even corneal transplants.