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The National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection (NMCRP) called for the establishment of an affordable ambulance service to be made available for paying patients.

Chairman of the NMCRP, Ranjith Withanage said that transport costs at present were exorbitantly high.

When someone falls and injures themselves, and are subsequently taken to the hospital in a three-wheeler or a car, there is a high chance of them sustaining permanent damage to their spine due to the manner in which they are handled when being transported into and out of vehicles and to and fro, he noted.

There are waiting lists, where sometimes a patient has to wait up to four months to receive a transfer from Badulla to Colombo, he added.

“Patients are willing to pay, sometimes even Rs 10,000, Rs 15,000 or Rs 20,000. The families and relatives of the patients have to incur a large cost to stay in Colombo during the period of hospitalization. The doctors in the Government Medical Officers’ Association use patients as a sacrifice to win their needs. Doctors never look into the facilities afforded to the patients. In hospitals, minor staff does not engage in work. The nurses are scared of them. If we are going to get an ambulance service from India, the doctors should not stand in the way. This is not the first time we have entered into an agreement with India or taken money from them. If the doctors think that the Research and Analysis Wing is going to creep into the country, they should raise the matter up with the Defence authorities,” he remarked.