The Adjutant General
Adjutant General’s Branch
Integrated HQ of MoD (Army)
Room 280, South BlockDHQ PO, New Delhi -110011
Sub: HEALTHCARE DEFENCE VETERANS
Dear General Sabharwal,
1. On 03 May 2011, I had an opportunity to visit RR Hospital Oncology Department with a relative patient. While waiting for our turn to be seen by the doctor, I happened to read a Notice Board put up in the corridor which has compelled me to write their letter.
2. All along our Military Career, (the post retirement being part of it as the last stage), we were told that Health Care of the Defence Veteran and his/ her spouse would be taken care of by the Govt. We were told that DSSR also mentions so. The ECHS was introduced to further improve the healthcare of defence Veterans. But what is written on the Notice Board referred above, one can safely deduce that any Defence Veteran or his/ her ECHS dependent inflicted with the Cancer will find it most difficult to get the treatment and he is sure to die most probably due to harassment and exhaustion rather than by cancer. I borrowed a paper from the reception counter and copied what was written on the Notice Board. The same is as follows:
3. The analysis
(a) The individual first reports to ECHS, collects the investigation forms, goes to
investigation empanelled hospitals which is difficult to find, gets back to ECHS, collects referral form for RR, reports to RR gets registered and then reports to Oncology department. (The patient and his/her relatives are already exhausted).
(b) ECHS members can visit RR only on OPD Days ie Tuesday, Thursday,
Saturday for consultation between 0900 – 1400hrs. Coming from 50 – 60 Kms away he is late at the reception and may not get his turn that day. This is what a few in the corridor had to tell me.
(c) The notice says that all special investigations or Radiological investigations will
be carried out in civil Hospital through ECHS Cell and not in RR Hospital. The patient returns to ECHS polyclinic which has already been closed for the day. He comes to ECHS, the next day and gets referral forms for investigations, goes to civil hospitals and gets the investigation done. After a few days collects investigation reports from the civil hospital and returns to ECHS Polyclinic. Again waits for his turn, gets referral to RR Hospital and then on OPD day reports to Oncology Dept.
(d) He is seen by the specialist doctor but his ordeal does not end. If Radiotherapy and
Chemotherapy are required to be don, the Notice Board says that these will not be provided at RR Hospital. He then goes back to ECHS polyclinic, is seen by the doctor who then prepares referral for civil hospital.
(e) He then goes to the civil hospital and waits for his turn to be given future date for
(f) The Notice Board also says that surgery if required may be offered depending on
availability of beds and OT Slot that too after permission from Commandant. The individual then starts his journey to reach upto the Commandant to get permission. If he is lucky, to get permission, he returns to oncology department and gets the date for surgery.
(g) The problem is further compounded, the Notice Body says, Medicines and
disposables for ECHS members to be collected from ECHS polyclinic. The patient returns to his dependent ECHS Polyclinic and asks for Medicines and disposables. More often, the local purchase funds would not be available, and the individual is harassed further. He is now at the breaking point.
(h) If he is lucky to get his surgery done at RR, only then he can get himself reviewed at RR. But if he has been operated in any civil hospital, he would have to follow the same tedious procedure to get himself reviewed at the Civil Hospital since RR will not entertain him for any future complications.
5. After reading the Notice Board I looked up and prayed to the God that No defence veteran should ever get Cancer since he is sure to die due to the bureaucratic tedious system of provision of Health Care. Soldier took the oath that Nation comes first then come his comrades and his own comfort the last and accepted to sacrifice his life. But he was assured that the Nation will lookafter his needs. Alas! if the instructions on the Notice Board are any indication, a defence veteran has been left at the VILLAGE WELL AS FIRED CARTRIDGE TO DIE. Dear General Sabharwal, I must admit that my emotions over took and tears rolled down.
6. May we request you to please take up the case at the highest levels and get the system set right to ensure that super specialty care to the Defence Veterans for all type of health problems is provided through single Widow concept. Please treat this MOST URGENT.
Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, SM
Vice Chairman Indian ESM Movement