Burns centre in Peshawar overcrowded with patients a month after launch

PESHAWAR: The first-ever burns and plastic surgery centre of the province has been flooded by the patients unnecessarily referred from other hospitals, prompting the top plastic surgeon to ask the health department to direct the hospitals not to refer normal patients to the facility.

The burns and plastic surgery centre was made operational recently at Hayatabad Medical Complex, Peshawar.

“We are receiving patients from other hospitals where they can be managed properly but they have been sent to us. It has overburdened the centre after a month of its launch,” Prof Mohammad Tahir, the director of the centre, told media.

According to him, about 80 per cent of the burn patients can be treated in their own areas and sending all patients to the centre is an encroachment upon the right of the serious people, who required highly specialised treatment.

“I have requested the health minister and health secretary to issue directives to the district level hospitals to stop referral of burns cases here because there are 30 plastic surgeons, who work in the hospitals and they are required to manage the people with burn wounds. However, we are ready to receive those patients, who need microvascular surgery, and other complicated cases that are not manageable at the district hospitals,” said Prof Tahir.

He said that the centre had 40-bed for burn patients. He said that all the beds were occupied just within a month of the start of the centre because patients came there from all the districts of the province. “If the district hospitals continue sending patients here, it would be difficult for us to admit those patients, who really need to be hospitalised here,” he added.

Prof Tahir said that even patients were being sent to the centre from Khyber Teaching Hospital and Lady Reading Hospital despite the fact that both the health facilities had the services of plastic surgeons and dedicated wards there. He added that both hospitals had 30-bed wards and four plastic surgeons and there was no need for the patients to be referred to the centre.

“We have communicated to both the hospitals to avoid unnecessary referral of patients to the centre because we want to concentrate on the treatment of people, who require highly specialised services,” he said.

The plastic surgeons at the centre said that Mardan, Swabi, Dera Ismail Khan and Swat had the services of plastic surgeons but patients were coming from there to the centre. “We have requested the health department to put in place basic infrastructure for management of plastic surgery patients at the district hospitals so they can provide treatment to the people locally,” they added.

They said that even general surgeons could manage the burns patients provided they got some equipment. “We have asked the health department that the district hospitals should contact us prior to sending patients here,” they said. In Bannu, Timergara and Chitral, the government of Germany had established 20-bed units that should be strengthened to reduce load on the centre and benefit people to get treatment in their own districts.

The health officials said that they would make sure that patients did not come to the centre if treatment was possible in their native districts. The health department has also planned to set up 20-bed burns ward in every division in line with the directives of Peshawar High Court to ease workload on the centre and enable it to focus on the treatment of the patients with electrical and critical burn wounds.

“Presently, we are getting people with superficial injuries and they are treatable at the local level. Even plastic surgeons in many districts can do skin grafting because they have been trained here and are qualified,” said sources at the centre.