Even as Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah’s son, Dr Yathindra Siddaramaiah, quit from his post in a private diagnostics firm that had bagged plum contracts to set up labs at state-run hospitals, teachers at Bangalore Medical College Research Institute (BMCRI) are concerned that a private lab in the renowned institution will affect course work.
Dr Yathindra was a director at Matrix Imaging Solutions Pvt Ltd, which was awarded contracts to create a lab at BMCRI, as well as at government hospitals in Kalaburagi and Mysuru. The resignation comes amid Opposition attacks on Siddaramaiah for alleged nepotism.
Karnataka’s Medical Education Minister Dr Sharan Prakash Patil has ruled out scrapping contracts given to the firm in the 18 months that Yathindra was on its board.
Senior professors at BMCRI said the contract should be annulled for the benefit of students. A senior doctor, signatory to a faculty letter objecting to outsourcing of lab facilities, said: “We are a teaching institution and laboratory work is crucial for MD students. We have more than 50 MD students and they need to access diagnostic facilities to learn to be good doctors. We had a situation at Mysore Medical College where a private operator did not allow students access to radiology facilities and an MD student could not produce his thesis.”
BMCRI is the most sought-after institution for medical students in Karnataka. The new lab is scheduled for inauguration by this month-end, according to top officials.
Both Yathindra and Dr P G Girish, special officer at BMCRI super-specialty hospital, where the Matrix lab is being set up, have blamed a coterie of doctors for fanning opposition to the private lab. “A few doctors of radiology, pathology and microbiology departments are concerned that kickbacks they received from private diagnostic labs will stop (once Max Imaging’s lab is up and running),” Dr Girish alleged. “Our agreement with the private lab says they must provide access to the students.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Yathindra’s partner, Dr Rajesh Gowda C M, a radiologist who is founding-director of Matrix Imaging and son of former Congress MP C P Mudalagiriyappa, is also the chief doctor listed for a diagnostic lab called Hindlabs. Hindlabs was set up by the government of India-run HLL Lifecare Ltd at K C General Hospital in Bengaluru, a state government-operated medical institution. HLL Lifecare also subcontracted to Matrix Imaging a contract it won in 2009 for a diagnostic facility at ESI, Rajajinagar, in Bengaluru.
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