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All is not well with wellness centres

All is not well with wellness centres
Highlights

The name of dispensaries might have changed to wellness centres, but the plight of the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) beneficiaries has not. Rather it has just got worse. Each centre is supposed to hold a meeting with pensioners’ associations every third month. However not a single meeting has been conducted since July 2013, which translates to 17 months.

The name of dispensaries might have changed to wellness centres, but the plight of the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) beneficiaries has not. Rather it has just got worse. Each centre is supposed to hold a meeting with pensioners’ associations every third month. However not a single meeting has been conducted since July 2013, which translates to 17 months.

Demands by pensioners

  • Restart weekly pensioners grievances day
  • Conduct the quarterly meeting with pensioners associations
  • Separate window for CGHS beneficiaries at government hospitals
  • Faster reimbursement

GS Vittal, vice-president, AG Offices Pensioners Association, says, “There are so many issues that need to be addressed, such as reimbursement, lack of relevant medicines, cashless treatment, shifting of wellness centres and getting reference letters. In the absence of a grievance centre, we are groping the dark that is also affecting our health.”

The shifting of wellness centres is one of the major issues affecting CGHS beneficiaries. As per norms, a wellness centre is supposed to be within 2.5 km from a residential area but the centres have been relocated far away. There are just 13 wellness centres for 1.9 lakh beneficiaries. Of this, 60,000 beneficiaries with CGHS cards reside in the city.

Senior citizens waiting outside a CGHS dispensary (file photo)

V Nageshwar Rao, general secretary, Confederation of Central Government Employees and Workers, says, “In Gachibowli there are 1,100 government employees. So we requested the additional commissioner to start a centre with one doctor at Gachibowli while continuing the existing one at Kakatiya Nagar.” But, in April this year, the wellness centre at Kakatiya Nagar was moved to Gachibowli and as a result the load on the Humayun Nagar Wellness Centre has increased.

VN Chandramouli, general secretary, co-ordination committee, Central Government Pensioners Association (AP), says, “Close to 5,000 beneficiaries are now visiting the Humayun Nagar centre. One has to wait for hours. In spite of representations to the additional commissioner, the Kakatiya Nagar wellness centre was shifted to Gachibowli. Now, the pensioners are put to a lot of inconvenience.”

Dr Venkateshwarulu, chief medical officer, in-charge, Humayun Nagar Wellness Centre, said that the number of patients has been increasing steadily since the shifting of the Kakatiya Nagar centre. The pensioners associations have given a representation for a wellness centre to be opened at Kukatpally but the authorities say that it is not feasible due to lack of funds.

VN Chandramouli says, “If the present additional director meets pensioners on a weekly basis, a lot of issues can be solved. But it has been almost six months since issues were last addressed.” Repeated attempts to contact the additional director proved futile. Reimbursement is another contentious issue among pensioners. The directorate claims that reimbursement would be done within 45 days but it takes 6-8 months and, in certain cases, a year. Corporate hospitals are not entertaining CGHS beneficiaries due to delayed payments and as a result many are facing trouble.

By:TP Venu

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