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Plan to hand over top Ahmedabad hospital to private group a BJP-led "misadventure"

Counterview Desk
Board members of the Vadilal Sarabhai General and Chinai Maternity Hospitals, Ahmedabad, Rupa Chinai, Brijesh Chinai, Jay Sheth and Dr Nishith Shah, who represent the original donor families, have denied reports appearing in the Ahmedabad media of December 17-18, quoting the VSH Board Chairperson and Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) Commissioner, who reportedly claim that we have “amicably” agreed to reduce the beds in the VSH to 500 from the original 1,160.
“If indeed they said this, then it is a deliberate and gross misinterpretation of facts and truth. The AMC Commissioner and Board Chairperson then stand accused of abusing the dignity of their office in their determined effort to get their way. In order to cover up for their outrageous behavior, they have sought to then issue a Caveat to us, preventing us from obtaining a restraining Court order”, they said in a statement.

Text of the statement:

At the VSH Board meeting on December 14, Friday, the Chairperson announced that VSH would be given 500 beds, while the balance would be transferred to AMC created Medical Education Trust. There and then she sought the passing of a Resolution accepting this proposal. We said we would walk out.
In the discussions thereafter we pressed for details, but the Chairperson said she was in a hurry to get on with the rest of the Agenda and we could have a separate meeting with the Deputy AMC Commissioner the following day on December 15. We specifically clarified that we would need time to understand the implications of this proposal and would get back the following week with our considered response in writing.
On December 15 we did meet with Deputy Municipal Commissioner K Arya and we sought his answers to many questions regarding financing of the hospitals, the source of funding, the future of our staff, equipment and services. It was purely an information seeking, informal dialogue without any conclusion. As we were leaving we were handed notice of another Board meeting to be held on Monday, December 17.
We immediately responded with a letter protesting that yet another Board meeting cannot be held within two days of the last one and that Agenda No 1 which again sought to discuss the issue of 500 beds was not appropriate as the matter was due to come up in the Gujarat High Court this week and therefore sub-judice. We had already stated our case that we required time to consider this proposal and understand its legal and other implications.
On December 17, we deliberately boycotted this Board meeting because we strongly felt that a gun is being held at our head and our compliance is being forced, with or without our assent. This is bullying, brutish tactics and we will not have it.
The AMC proposal to transfer resident doctors to run the AMC-MET multi-speciality hospital is certain to cripple the functioning of the VSH, ensuring permanent damage so that the latter will not be able to continue. The AMC clearly told us that the running cost of the new hospital will be Rs 300 crore a year, so they do not have money to run two hospitals.
If that is the case then what assurance do we have that even the 500 bed hospital will receive adequate funds and staff to continue? They have not provided a blueprint in writing, which ensures accountability and transparency in its working plan. Hence we have nothing to go on in terms of assurance or commitment from the AMC.
The entire effort of the AMC is to prepare for the inauguration of the new hospital by the Prime Minister. They are not offering any clarity on what happens after that. It is clear to us that they intend to hand over this hospital to a private group and run it on a commercial basis, while cutting the oxygen flow to the Sarabhai General and Chinai Maternity Hospitals and ensuring their death.
We feel extremely sorry for the poor citizens of Ahmedabad and the staff of VSH who are at the receiving end of this BJP-led misadventure. Even now we place our faith and hope in the justice system of our country and in its citizens who deeply care about the plight of India’s poor and will fight to ensure they get access to free and quality medical care.

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