Staff at several public hospitals were diverting patients to private hospitals and diagnostic centres for treatment and tests, according to officials of the Andhra Andhra Pradesh Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), which raided 39 public health facilities, including 13 government hospitals and 22 primary and community health centres, across 13 districts of the state on Thursday. The ACB teams also found glaring discrepancies and absenteeism at several health facilities.
“The ACB raids today revealed that government hospitals are rotting in Andhra Pradesh but it is the doing of doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and employees hired on temporary basis who are ensuring that private hospitals benefit from this mess,” said a top government official who directed the raids.
At the Srikakulam government hospital, an employee hired on contract basis to guide patients to various doctors was found to be directing them to a local private hospital. “Patients who were admitted told us that proper food was not being given to them. An attendant who was hired on contract basis was found to be diverting patients who were asked to get blood tests done at the nearby SRL Medical Centre in which he had a stake, and they were fleecing the patients to get the tests done,” an official said.
At the NTR Hospital at Anakapalle in Visakhapatnam district, ACB officials found misappropriation in medicines and food supplies for breakfast.
“The healthcare scheme was also being misused at Vizianagaram government hospital. While the register showed seven in-patients of Arogysri, they were not present in the hospital at the time of the raid. There is only one driver for two ambulances but for several trips both ambulances have been shown to be driven by the same driver. This has been done to fraudulently claim money,” an official said.
At the Government Area Hospital at Jangareddygudem in West Godavari, the ACB found that the doctors, nursing superintendent and head nurse were not present but were shown as signed in. Due to the absence of senior hospital management staff, lunch was served to patients only after 1.30 pm though the hospital manual says it should be served between 12 pm to 12.30 pm.
At the Government Area Hospital at Gudivada in Krishna District, ACB officials found that the prescribed diet was not being given to the patients. “The significant find was that an ambulance (AP 29U5965) which was not in use and was condemned was being cited by the hospital to claim Rs 4,13,996 from July 2019 to February 1, 2020, as salary for a non-existent driver,” an official said.
At the Guntur Hospital, the ACB found that the hospital had claimed that 23 security personnel were hired from a private agency but only five were working. “The most significant revelation was that none of the government hospitals were maintaining medicine purchase bills, stock registers, medicines issue vouchers, doctors and para-medical staff attendance registers,” a top ACB official said. “In seven of the 13 district hospitals, we found that some of the ambulances were not in running condition but the hospitals were drawing salaries for the drivers and maintenance charges for the defunct vehicles. Freezers in six of the 13 government blood banks were not working and hospital staff was directing patients to private hospitals’ blood banks or NGOs,” an official said.
At the Government Community Health Centre at Gooty in Anantapur district, only two of the seven doctors were present.
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