WHILE Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij is known to carry out surprise checks at hospitals and other health establishments to determine how they are functioning, an RTI application filed by an official from his own department reveals that orders issued by him in at least one such surprise inspection were quickly reversed.
On February 25 last year, Vij had conducted a surprise check at the state health headquarters in Panchkula and found several doctors “sitting idle”. He ordered the transfer of several doctors to other districts facing a shortage of medical professionals. The transfer orders were issued on April 17.
However, many of those transferred were back to the headquarters within days — without intimating the minister, who is astonished that his orders had been reversed.
Among those transferred following the surprise inspection was Dr Jyoti Kaushal. She was sent from the office of Director General Health Services (DGHS) in Panchkula to the General Hospital in Ambala Cantonment against a vacant post. The order was cancelled after barely 12 days — on April 29.
Dr Kaushal told The Indian Express that she had requested for the cancellation as she was suffering from hypertension. She also said that senior doctors like her, who are past 50 years, are usually given administrative posts.
Dr Shyamli Varshney, also posted with the Panchkula DGHS office, was transferred to General Hospital, Naraingarh (Ambala), to fill a vacancy. The order was cancelled after 14 days. Dr Varshney was transferred back to the DGHS office.
“You can find out the reasons for the cancellation of my transfer order from the office,” she said.
A third case was that of Dr Payal Puri, posted at General Hospital, Panchkula, but working in the DGHS office. She was sent to LNJP Hospital in Kurukshetra against a vacancy. The transfer order was cancelled within 14 days. Dr Puri said she was transferred on compassionate grounds. She said: “My mother-in-law is a widow and a heart patient. Also, my sister-in-law went through polytrauma. My husband has a non-transferable job and is posted in Panchkula, so it was a couple case.”
Expressing surprise, minister Vij said: “I had issued the transfer orders because doctors were surplus and I moved most of them out of Panchkula. How did they violate my orders and come back to postings of their choice? I will get this checked and take strict action.”
Several calls to Director-General Health Services D P Lochan on his cellphone went unanswered. His office claimed he was “out of station”.
Dr Kamla Singh, standing in for him, said the transfers and cancellations had been ordered by the government. “A DG-level officer has no role in getting doctors back or cancelling any orders,” she said.
P K Mahapatra, Additional Chief Secretary, Health, claimed he was “not aware” that the minister’s orders had been reversed. “I will get it checked. Accountability will be fixed,” Mahapatra said.
At The Indian Express Idea Exchange in December last year, minister Anil Vij had said that such surprise inspections had proved effective in detecting many anomalies. This could be one more anomaly in that list.