Chimi Dema

Coinciding with the 40th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The King, the health ministry launched the patient referral by air system to ease trouble and inconvenience for patients and attendants while travelling by road.  

Officials said the initiative was an offer of appreciation to His Majesty The King for his unwavering love and compassion.

The first beneficiaries of the service, a group of 21 patients and their attendants referred to Kolkata and Christian Medical College Hospital, Vellore in India will leave tomorrow.

At the launch of the initiative yesterday, Health minister Dechen Wangmo said that the need for such an initiative was felt considering the long hours of journey by road, which results in compromising patient’s safety and care.

Lyonpo said the conditions of both the patient and attendant worsen by the time they reach the referral centre due to difficult circumstances they face on the way.

Besides, the initiative is expected to reduce administrative burden and improve turn around time (TAT) in the referral approval system.

Drukair would henceforth, offer 25 percent discount on the purchase of tickets for patients and attendants referred abroad.

Today, cases requiring more specialised treatment are referred.

Over the last three years, the hospital has referred out 3,490 patients with support extended to one attendant each for adult and two attendants for children under five years old.

Only 25 percent of the patients travelled by air, a press release from the ministry stated.

Estimating 100 patients and attendants for out referral a month, the initiative would benefit 1,200 individuals. The financial implication in a year is estimated at Nu 48 million.

According to the director of the national referral hospital in Thimphu, Dorji Dhap, the number of patients referred outside is expected to decrease in future with the ministry initiating 19 new services in the country in the current Plan.

He said that the financial implication to the government would also reduce, eventually.