The health ministry will submit the concept paper on delinking the three-referral hospitals from the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) after the third commission takes office.

Health minister Dechen Wangmo said that after submitting the proposal to the commission, the ministry would assess how to go about the process. “What we want to do and aspire for is people-centred care.”

Although the JDWNRH in Thimphu was granted autonomous status in 2014, the hospital does not have autonomy in human resources. The two regional referral hospitals in Mongar and Gelephu are with the health ministry.

Lyonpo said that one of the issues with being an autonomous agency but not delinked from RCSC was that if the hospital doesn’t have a certain specialist and if they want to hire one, they could not.

“They don’t have the authority to hire anyone or send a doctor to some other hospitals and this has affected health services greatly especially at secondary and tertiary level care,” Lyonpo said.

If the three-referral hospitals could be delinked from the commission and merged then this would be a major reform in the health sector, Lyonpo said.

If the hospitals are merged, Lyonpo said they can rotate as a teaching hospital and doctors from the medical university could practice in any of the regional referral hospitals and do their residency, which cannot be done today.

Lyonpo said that today, there are specialists with JDWNRH but because of the design of the system, the specialist with the hospital cannot go to the regional referral hospitals in Gelephu and Mongar.

“When we are not able to do that, it causes inconveniences to the patients who have to travel all the way to Thimphu to avail health services,” Lyonpo said.

“If we are able to delink them from RCSC and merge them then we have the opportunity to mobilise specialists and provide specialised services where ever required. It is an effective and efficient way of using our limited human resources.”

If possible, Lyonpo said that all referral hospitals should have enough medical specialists but the country doesn’t have the human resources.

Dechen Tshomo