All the primary health care (PHC) centres in the state of Andhra Pradesh will soon run 24/7, with staff nurses working three shifts. Doctors will be available for 12 hours a day in two shifts. In the recent official orders, the Health Department has revised the operational timings for the functioning of every PHCs into 24 hours in three shifts. The orders were issued to improve health care facilities in rural areas. However, the date of implementation is yet to be confirmed by the authorities.
According to the official order, dated, March 19, each PHC would have two medical officers and would work in two shifts, first shift starting from 9 am to 4 pm and second shift starting from 2 pm to 9 pm. Meanwhile, doctors shall be available for call from 9 pm to 9 am. Meanwhile for staff nurses, there are three shifts, 8 am to 2 pm, 2 pm to 8 pm and 8 pm to 8 am.
According to a Deccan Chronicle report, there are 1,145 PHCs in the state, which are currently working from 9 am to 4 pm. Meanwhile, about 500 other PHCs which are located in the tribal areas with no other health care facility nearby are already working 24/7.
It was said that this move was started in order to reduce the burden on other medical facilities, such as referral hospitals and community health centres.
The report further adds that doctors had pointed out that it becomes difficult to manage both the shifts if a doctor goes on leave. The nurses have been also expressed their concern over the safety aspects of the night shifts. It was noted that there wouldn't be transport facilities in the remote areas for the staff to commute.
AP Government doctors association convenor, Dr Jayadheer was quoted to Deccan Chronicle saying that the doctors body would write to the government about the practical difficulties that the medical staff would be facing.