The Odisha government on Wednesday said that it has asked district authorities to strengthen COVID care facilities at the local level, but did not put any ban on the movement of patients to Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
The government's clarification came in the wake of criticism from various quarters, including the opposition BJP and Congress, which said that patients should not be discouraged from visiting Bhubaneswar and Cuttack as the best of medical facilities are available in the two cities.
"The government is not banning movement of patients to Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. It's regulating their movement to ensure that they travel safe and with proper medical advice and logistics," Chief Secretary A K Tripathy said in a statement.
In a bid to reduce the extra load on medical facilities in the state capital following surge of coronavirus cases, the Odisha government on Tuesday asked district authorities to strengthen COVID care facilities and to refer less number of patients to hospitals in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.
Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, P K Mohapatra said that the order was issued to ensure proper care during inter-facility transfer of critically ill patients.
"We have received grievances from different quarters. The state government has no intention to restrict people from districts getting treatment in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The people in districts too have equal rights on availing good treatment in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack," he said.
Mohapatra said that district authorities have been told to strengthen their critical care facilities and ensure that movement of critical patients is made in a proper manner with all logistics.
More training should be imparted at the grassroot level and district level hospitals, so that patient management is accurate and referral should be reduced, Mohapatra had said in a letter to all district magistrates-cum collectors and commissioners of municipal corporations.
Patients insisting on being referred to Bhubaneswar and Cuttack should be counselled and dissuaded, as there is life risk in transport, he had said.
Patients in transit should be accompanied by emergency medical technician, he said, adding that unless stable, they should not be transported, the letter said.
It said that in order to decrease the load on ICU, there should be step-down ICUs and the patients, who have become stable in ICU, should be shifted to step-down ICU or HDU or Semi ICU beds.
He said that the number of dialysis beds, maternity beds, oncology beds and trauma beds should be increased for COVID patients, especially in peripheral facilities.
However, opposition parties have criticised the move.
Leader of the opposition P K Naik of the BJP said that there should not be any restriction on movement of patients to the twin cities.
"It is not proper to discourage patients from visiting Bhubaneswar and Cuttack where the best of medical facilities are available," said Congress MLA Taraprasad Bahinipati.
The opposition parties also slammed the state government for its order to district authorities for closing down COVID Care Centres, COVID Care Homes and Temporary Medical Centres due to inadequate patients in the facilities.
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