Doctors, Nurses and Attendants at Hospital Accident Ward Watch TV Instead of Treating Emergency Patient in Urgent Need

The following is the text of an email sent by a concerned citizen about a shocking incident of callous neglect displayed by staff at the Colombo National Hospital. It is published here in deference to the wishes of the sender who wants it to be widely publicised – DBS Jeyaraj


Dear Sirs/Madams,

Forgive me for sending out an impersonal email. I wish to draw your attention to the following.

Last night (28.05.2013), a young trainee nurse from Nawalapitiya was tossed out of a moving bus unto the bustling street in Kirulapone and fell right in front of my moving car.

While a Police Officer from the Wellawatte Station was questioning the bus driver, a friend and I rushed her to the General Hospital of Colombo – the biggest government hospital in this entire country.

Upon reaching the emergency entrance of the hospital, we were ordered by the nurse at the entrance to wheel out a stretcher and to place the patient on this stretcher. It was not a busy night. Having so done, we were then ordered to push her into to the accident ward which, after disturbing many, we actually found. Here we had a patient who was vomiting out blood and as far as the attendants, nurses and doctors were concerned, the soap opera on TV was far more important to attend to at this hour.

I attach a picture as evidence of this. After painfully having managed to get her an x-ray, we had to run around the ward to convince the doctor that this patient was actually worth having a look at.

Finally, after about 2 hours of mayhem, she was admitted to the ward and we were praying that she has no major injuries.

The anger and disgust that I felt at this period of time affected me to the very core of my being. I was appalled at the treatment which ordinary citizens face in times of greatest need and ashamed that I was too “privileged” never to have experienced this before.

This is the sad reality of this “Island in Paradise”. I am ashamed today to live in a country with such blatant disregard for human life. The compassion and loving kindness so inherent to our culture is now merely folklore.

There are great many young people who are willing to take a stand for reforms in a manner that is the least counter productive for the growth of this country – please help us to do so by sharing this message with people who can make a change, however small.

Thank you


Selyna. D. Peiris

LLB (Hull) LLM (London) MAIS (Vienna)