The committee that assessed the possibility of corporatising Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) found that corporatisation of the hospital was not palatable to the Bhutanese population.

Prime minister Tshering Tobgay said the idea of corporatisation was dropped considering some sections of the population had misunderstood the intention of the government to improve efficiency and delivery of health services.

Prime minister was responding to a question from the media during the meet the press session on March 2. The health minister was not present at the session.

The committee also found that the autonomy of this hospital needed improvement.

Prime minister Tshering Tobgay said during the recent mid-year review of the annual performance agreement of JDWNRH:  “They want exactly the kind of autonomy that we wanted to grant.”

The government, he said, tried to explain that corporatisation was not for profit and that it was really for autonomy of the hospital.

“There will not be corporatisation of the hospital because this has been purposely misconstrued and misrepresented,” prime minister said. “We want to give more autonomy to the hospital. But, at the moment, there is nothing we can do.”

The government, he said, would continue to consider how to enhance the autonomy that the hospital has been seeking.

In some gewogs where prime minister visited recently, people shared concerns about corportatisation of the hospital.

“This is how powerful the message had been. They believed we are going to charge for the health services; they were confused and scared,” prime minister said. “There will be no corporatisation of the hospital.”

Lyonpo Dorji Choden, who had all along thought that the issue of corporatising of the hospital had no relevance anymore, said she was startled when the media fielded the question. “The findings are now irrelevant.”

She said that bringing the issue back could lead to misinformation.

Prime minister said that JDWNRH in the last four years has made notable improvement in terms of services, cleanliness and organisation. “This was possible because of the autonomy. Look at the level of autonomy the hospital now receives.  You will see that our intention is nothing but to increase autonomy.”

It is important, he said, to improve service delivery at the national referral hospital. “That is why we want to give more autonomy to it. You cannot get more autonomy than this. If you want to get more autonomy, then you have to leave the government system.”

Dechen Tshomo