RAWALPINDI - Intense electricity loadshedding has made the District Headquarter Hospital (DHQ) a hell for thousands of patients and their attendants who have been suffering a lot because of delay in medical tests, water shortage and dysfunctional cooling system installed by Punjab government in wards.

The patients and their attendants as well the daily visitors of OPD held caretaker government responsible for the current water and energy crises in the government-run hospitals.

During a survey conducted by The Nation on Monday, a large number of patients, either in OPD or admitted in the wards, were seen awaiting surgeries or their medical test reports outside the laboratories as ECG machines and other necessary services like blood tests, ultrasound, CT scan, X-ray, angiography and sonography could not be operated due to low voltage and power suspension.

The unbearable pungent smell and suffocation welcome one at the main OPD of the hospital. The patients and attendants have been fighting over getting place under a ceiling fan and those who fail are forced to use newspaper and handmade fans to beat the heat. Moreover, hundreds of laboratories and X-ray tests are pending due to power outages at DHQ laboratories. There are some machines, which are too heavy to be powered by the generators available at the hospital. Continual power outages have rendered the x-ray machine almost unusable.

Patients also protested against the federal government and WAPDA and demanded the government to provide power generators to hospital administration to overwhelm numerous problems being faced by the patients.

A doctor, wishing not to be named, told The Nation: "We had to refer some serious patients to Holy Family Hospital and Benazir Bhutto Hospital because of water shortage and dysfunctional air conditioners." He said that a number of patients are not recovering owing to sizzling heat.

He informed that four generators were installed to restore emergency services at least but they are not enough. It was also learnt that one of the generators has been out of order since long. Besides, air conditioners at private rooms are also not working properly.

The doctor said that cooling system and the air conditioners are not working due to time and again tripping. "If you come at noon or night you will see how the patients and their attendants are suffering in the wards or in lawns."

Hundreds of X-ray tests are pending and scuffles between patients and the laboratories' staffs have become a routine matter in the hospital, told an X-ray technician on condition of anonymity. He said that patients have been waiting for their test results for the last several days.

"I have submitted blood and urine samples on May 31, but so far waiting to get test results," said Haseena Bibi, a patient admitted in Medicine Ward # 8.

The technician said that work depends on availability of electricity. "It is simple if there is electricity then we will be able to conduct test on time but that is a far cry," he said. A large number of patients also complained of water shortage and most of them are forced to buy bottled water for drinking. Dr Ijaz Suhail, the newly appointed Medical Superintendent, while talking to this scribe said, "We have provided electricity to operation theatres and emergency ward. Power outages and low voltage have badly disturbed our performance."