With more patients visiting the hospital annually, the workload for doctors and staff at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has been increasing.

The hospital recently launched its first annual report in which figures are supposed to make us aware of the increasing workload.

We are aware that our doctors and hospital staff have a heavy workload. We appreciate their efforts and value the work they put in, day and night.

Given the importance of their work, we don’t want them overworked or overburdened. We want them to know that they are appreciated; that we’re grateful for the free health system, and we hope they remain motivated and passionate.

However, given the increasing number of patients visiting not only JDWNRH, but other hospitals, it is hoped that we’re doing whatever we can to make the system as efficient as possible. Having the most efficient system in place, from a rational token system to orderly queues and less waiting time, means less frustrated patients, and therefore less stressed-out medical staff.

Simple improvements, like designating queue areas with the help of painted lines or other equipment, can help. Many express frustration with the token system which requires some to go and wait as early as 8am. If you require a blood test, some say that the wait can take several more hours.

We are relieved to know that efforts are underway to record all patient information electronically. It has taken several years, but we are hopeful that this initiative goes nationwide soon. This should definitely reduce waiting times and increase efficiency.

But there is room for improvement. The hospital needs to identify its weaknesses in management and address them.

But with the increasing number of patients, even an efficient system can get bogged down, especially one with doctors constantly leaving the service.

How do we retain doctors and specialists is a question that has not been answered.

If we have to pay our doctors more to prevent them from leaving, perhaps they should be de-linked from the system so that we can.

While private diagnostic clinics have been allowed, there is a need to begin outsourcing more services to reduce the burden on JDWNRH and other hospitals in Thimphu. Privatisation of medical services so that our health care system is not overburdened needs to receive serious consideration now. That is how we can acknowledge the efforts of our health fraternity and improve the system.