There are news items now and again alluding to the fact that in some public hospitals, there are usually scarcity of bed spaces for emergency admissions.  Consequently, there will be need for referrals to other hospitals where beds are presumed available. It is, however, usually negatively reported that such hospitals that do not have beds administer first aid inside the vehicles that brought the patients, before referral.  

First and foremost, available bed spaces in public hospitals are finite. When they are all occupied, there is no magic the system managers can wield. To start with, given a population of about 22 million people in Lagos State, social welfare services are definitely tensioned. 

The massive influx or gravitation of patients to public hospitals these days clearly has a direct correlation with the economic situation in the country.  Cost of health care is now very high, more so in private health facilities compared to the public facilities. 

In Lagos State, the current administration of Governor Babajide Sanwoolu, in line with its T.H.E.M.E.S. agenda, significantly and substantially subvent the cost of healthcare in the government health facilities.  The result is a huge differential in healthcare cost between private and public health facilities. It is no surprise then that the public health facilities are now severely oversubscribed.  There is no doubt that the state government is responding positively to this development. A lot of new health facilities have been commissioned and quite a number are in the pipeline. 

In the interim, the administrators of the health system have put in place a functioning referral mechanism between the state's health facilities.  Each institution has an idea of available emergency beds in the different facilities and telephone communication is instituted whenever cases have to be referred. 

It is a gold standard, best practice and indeed a duty of care to resuscitate and stabilise patients before referral and this is mandatorily practiced in all Lagos State health facilities.  It is therefore not an aberration or abnormality to see patients being administered medical care inside the vehicles that brought them. This step is critical to ensure that they arrive at the next port of call without decompensation. It is a good step, it is necessary and should be applauded, not badmouthed.

This information needs to be put out in order to erase the nasty impression being created about emergency patients being attended to inside their vehicles.  


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