With the country gradually resuming normalcy, the National Referral Hospital management in Thimphu discontinued meals for patient attendants beginning Tuesday. However, the decision was not well received by the attendants. They are claiming that it is inconvenient for them to manage meals. The hospital issued a notification towards the end of last month stating that the management will stop providing meals from May.
Some of the attendants said it is difficult, particularly for those who do not have any relatives in the capital to deliver them meals. Some said they are forced to skip meals as they are not even allowed to go out of the hospital to buy food.
“It is not an issue for those who have relatives and family here in the capital. But it is very challenging for those coming from far flung places without any relatives in Thimphu. Let alone food, they do not even give tea. And even if they do, they scold us a lot,” said an attendant.
“There is no breakfast or lunch. We do not get meals here at the hospital. I do not have any relatives in Thimphu to get us meals. We are surviving on water. The hospital should not do this to us,” said another attendant.
“Although we are residing in Thimphu, it is not convenient. Even to get a cup of tea, we are being scolded. The hospital should be considerate of those who do not have relatives to deliver meals. Sometimes, our friends try to deliver meals but the security guards are very strict about the timing. They won’t let meals in even if they are late by a second. Sometimes, it is not possible to deliver food on time as they are delayed by traffic,” added an attendant.
According to the hospital’s administrative officer, the hospital does provide a meal for those coming from far flung places and the needy ones residing within Thimphu upon registration. But he said some of the attendants come to get hospital meals without registering. As a result, those who have registered have to return to their wards without a meal.
“We ask them if they want to eat the hospital meal or have their family members deliver the meals. Our staff visit every bed to confirm the number of patients and attendants wanting to eat from the hospital. And accordingly, we give the list to the kitchen,” said Tashi Phuntsho, the Administrative Officer of JDWNRH.
The health minister said the hospital does not provide meals for those attendants who have relatives to deliver meals until the pandemic hit the country.
“The hospital started providing meals for both patients and attendants during the pandemic as they were not allowed to move because of the lockdown. But now, there is no lockdown and we are gradually returning to normalcy. Therefore, we only provide a meal for the patients,” said Health Minister, Dechen Wangmo.
“Moreover, we also continue to provide for the attendants who come from faraway places and who do not have any relatives to deliver the food. If you look at the notification, we are now going back to how things were before the pandemic,” added the Health Minister.
The hospital spends close to Nu 2 M on patient and attendants’ meals every month.
Edited by Phub Gyem