|Ambulances in Rampurhat. Picture by Dwijodas Ghosh|
SNEHAMOY CHAKRABORTY, TT, Rampurhat, Feb. 27: The Birbhum administration has decided to ask ambulance operators to install GPS devices so that the vehicles can be tracked while ferrying patients.
The move comes against the backdrop of allegations that some ambulance drivers persuade patients from poor families to get admitted to nursing homes against a hefty commission even after they have been referred to government hospitals.
To start with, ambulances parked inside the compound of Rampurhat sub-divisional hospital would be required to install the devices.
The sub-divisional officer of Rampurhat, Supriya Das, said: "We have spoken to an agency to install the GPS gadgets. We will not allow any ambulance in the compound of Rampurhat sub-divisional hospital without a GPS."
A GPS device installed in a vehicle helps one to track it from a distance. The device can be monitored through a computer or a smartphone after installing a software.
In the case of the ambulances, the GPS devices would be monitored jointly by the Patients' Welfare Committee and the district administration. The ambulance operators would be asked to install the devices on their own. Each gadget costs around Rs 6,500.
Birbhum district magistrate P. Mohan Gandhi welcomed the idea. "If the plan is successful in Rampurhat, we will introduce in it other government hospitals," he said.
Ambulance operators in Birbhum came under the scanner of the district administration after relatives of two patients alleged they were misled into admitting them to nursing homes instead of the government hospital where they had been referred.
Local Trinamul MLA Ashish Banerjee has called a meeting of the Patients' Welfare Committee and ambulance operators tomorrow. "It is a good decision. At the meeting tomorrow, we will explain to the ambulance operators why it is important to have the GPS installed," he said.
District health officials said at least 300 patients were admitted daily to the Rampurhat sub-divisional hospital.
"Rampurhat is the largest sub-division in Birbhum and the hospital gets patients from Jharkhand and the bordering Murshidabad district. A number of patients are referred to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital," an official said.
An ambulance owner said: "We will have to install the GPS if the administration directs us."