Nima Wangdi 

After the success of the off-hour consultation at Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), the service will be implemented in the regional and some dzongkhag hospitals.

The third Lhengye Zhungtshog decided this during the 109th session on May 12.

The off-hour consultation service system has been tested for more than a decade at the JDWNRH and received a commendable public acceptance according to the Cabinet.

However, the Lyhengye Zhungtshog has directed not to specify the timing of consultation to ensure that such services are made available even during the holidays.

Sowa Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo said the health ministry carried out an assessment of the service and found that there is a high demand from the public.

“We can’t name the hospitals in which we will start the services for now. We are assessing patient load, population and affordability by the public,” Lyonpo said the service will be instituted based on the assessment findings.

Lyonpo said the ministry is also developing guidelines to make it more efficient. The guideline will be ready in a few weeks.

“Only a few departments were providing off-hour services for now at JDWNRH but with formalisation, all the departments would start providing off-hour services,” Lyonpo said.

People need not come to Thimphu for medical certificates.

Lyonpo also said that there should be a board of doctors for the issuance of medical certificates for travel and visas. “We will institute a board of doctors in the identified hospitals decentralising the medical certificate issuance.”

“For now, we will soon start with regional hospitals, Gelephu, Mongar and some other bigger hospitals where we have already started specialist services,” she said.

The nominal fee for the medical certificate will remain unchanged while fees for other services are being reviewed. “The new guidelines will have everything clear.”

Health officials said that this would also make it convenient for those who can’t make it to the hospitals during normal hours as they can meet specialists after 5pm.

Lyonpo said the ministry has also expanded specialist services in Phuentsholing, Samtse, Trashigang and Bumthang apart from JDWNRH, Mongar, and Gelephu.