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Amidst privatisation move corruption scandal "rocks" Ahmedabad's top public hospital

Counterview Desk
Four independent board members of the Vadilal Sarabhai General and Chinai Maternity Hospitals, Ahmedabad's top public health care facilities catering to the needs of the poor for decades, have taken strong objection to the failure of the city authorities to cope corruption scandals rocking them.
Signed by Rupa Chinai, Brijesh Chinai, Jay Sheth and Dr Nishith Shah, belonging to the original donor family, the board members in a statement have also objected to the move to hand over prime space in the Sarabhai General and Chinai Hospitals to private agencies, bringing in "obscure diagnostic services" on a contractual basis.
"We see this as part of a worrying move to undermine medical services in the existing hospitals", they insist.

Text of the statement:

The constant interference and corruption scandals perpetuated by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-created Medical Education Trust (AMC-MET) in the administrative affairs of the Vadilal Sarabhai (VS) General and Chinai Maternity Hospitals is yet again dragging down the reputation of this 80-year-old institution established by Sardar Vallabhai Patel in 1931.
We, the independent members of the VS board of management, representing the donor families, are forced, in the interest of transparency and accountability, to inform the public of Ahmedabad about two recent corruption scandals that are admitted by the board, but resulting in cover up, inaction and extensive loss to the public exchequer.
The first instance of corruption pertains to a major fraud whereby Rs 8 crore of the Employees' Provident Fund were wrongfully invested by the hospital administration, led by Superintendent Dr. Sandeep Malhan with the backing of AMC-MET. The issue of this investment was never brought before the VSH board of management for clearance. It led to a penalty of Rs 7 crore and Rs 63 lakh being imposed by the Provident Fund Commissioner.
The AMC, in an effort to cover up its complicity has advanced a grant to the hospital to pay this penalty. Meanwhile, the agenda for the forthcoming VSH board Meeting of December 14, 2018, seeks the board ’s sanction in challenging the PF Commissioner’s penalty in the High Court.
This same matter had also come up in the agenda of the previous board meeting held on October 12, 2018 when we had demanded answers to the following questions: Who is responsible for this wrongful investment? What is the reason for the penalty charged to VSH? Why was the issue not placed before the VSH board of management for initial clearance? Why has the AMC tried to cover up for this by advancing penalty payment? Why has a police complaint not been filed against the persons perpetuating this fraud and leading to such a huge loss to the Institution and the public exchequer?
No answers were provided. We seek approval of the board yet again in the forthcoming meeting of December 14, when we have already placed our objections on record is outrageous. A detailed independent report on this very serious matter is required. Action must be initiated to recover the funds and to frame charges against those responsible for this fraud.
While the minutes of meeting of October 12, 2018 records that the board “unanimously agreed” to remove Dr Malhan from the office of the superintendent, the fact that he continues there is yet again an indicator of the interference of AMC-MET in the affairs of the independently managed VS Hospitals.
A second instance of corruption recently coming to light is the disappearance of 126 albumin injections in the Department of Gastroenterology Surgery at Chinai Maternity Hospital. Valued at Rs 5 lakh, they were meant to be given free to poor patients. An inquiry was conducted by the matron, the resident medical officer and the casualty medical officer and their report was dated September 24, 2018.
Despite this the superintendent, Dr Malhan, suppressed this report and did not at any stage, inform the board about this incident. At the board meeting of October 12, 2018, the board chairperson and AMC Members said they were unaware of this incident. When we questioned Dr Malhan about this information obtained from our sources, he confirmed this incident but could not explain his role in not informing the VSH board of management to whom he is directly answerable.
A reading of the Inquiry Committee’s report reveals that the Head of Department, Dr Mahendra Bhavsar, has not been questioned in the Inquiry when he is responsible for all matters as Head of Department. The resignation of Dr Malhan, who is responsible for this and several other corruption scandals, was once again demanded by us, but has been ignored.
Yet another seriously worrying trend we see is the move by the present board to hand over prime space in the Sarabhai General and Chinai Hospitals to private agencies bringing in obscure diagnostic services on a contractual basis. We see this as part of a worrying move to undermine medical services in the existing hospitals ,and render them redundant, while transferring staff, equipment and beds to the new Multi-Speciality Hospital to be inaugurated shortly.
Any move to barter away space or resources of an existing trust to an extraneous trust such as AMC-MET is deemed illegal unless it has the sanction of the full board . When half the nine member board has objected in writing to the bartering of the trust’s resources and challenged the move in the Gujarat High Court, the continued defiance of the AMC and its representatives on the VS board requires urgent sanctions through strong public protest and intervention of saner authorities.

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
This in Mody's Ahmedabad!

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