Patients wait outside, no pharmacists in sight

Patients wait outside, no pharmacists in sight

Number of pharmacists at Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital is at least 10 times less than the required strength

Lack of manpower at the pharmacy adds to the woes of patients standing in long queues for medicines in Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital in Khichripur, east Delhi. The patients complain of lack of sensitivity by pharmacists and non-availability of medicines.

Krish, 4, developed a boil on his head. The doctor in the paediatrics department gave some basic medicines to cure the child.

“I went to the medicine shop of the hospital and was snapped at the counter. They threw away my card saying 'we don't keep these medicines'. Next day, however, I got the medicines from a different counter of the same shop," said Sapna Kumari, Krish's mother, a resident of Khirchripur.

The pharmacy which provides free medicines at LBSH has one in-charge and three pharmacists. "The work of a pharmacist involves distributing medicines, making proper entries and explaining the usage to the patients. It takes two to three minutes per patient which makes it 120 patients a day. But each of us has to deal with 1,000 patients a day.

“The mental and physical pressure results in misbehaviour towards the patients. We even do not have chairs and have to stand all day while distributing medicines," said a senior pharmacist at LBSH.

The counter for pregnant women opens only for an hour a day, which is managed by a member of an NGO. Otherwise this counter remains always shut. According to norms of the Pharmacy Council of India, a statutory body under the ministry of health and family welfare, a pharmacist is supposed to distribute medicines to nearly 100 patients a day. Going by the number of patients visiting the hospital daily, LBSH requires 30 pharmacists.

It is 10 times more than the current strength. Patients complain of shortage of drugs too. Sunita a resident of Mandawali says she comes regularly to the hospital and some basic drugs are always missing. “They do not have two out of five medicines prescribed by the doctor for my diabetes," she added.

The doctors said that the patients usually get costlier medicines in the hospital but they have to buy cheaper medicines from outside. "The real issue with our hospital is that it is over-crowded. The workforce provided by the government is according to the strength of 100 beds.

“But we receive 3,000 patients a day. Even though all are not admitted, the burden on infrastructure and services is huge. Our doctors are also working beyond their capacity.

The government has the plan to expand the services of the hospital, which will lead to the increase in workforce," said Dr Veer Singh, medical superintendent, LBSH.