Naseema Akhter has been waiting in Ward 2 of the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) for 12 days to get operated for brain tumour. She will be admitted for another month before she goes under the knife.
This wait is painful and dangerous but her prolonged stay in the hospital before the surgery and prescribed tests will,however,make a good business for several doctors at this premier institute who make money by diverting patients to particular private testing centres for expensive tests.
The officials in the SKIMS’s Radiology department,sources reveal,tell the patients that they will have to wait for several days for diagnostic tests at the institute. Instead,the patients are advised to get these tests done at the private clinics,run by the doctors and technicians who work in the institute.
And the centre recommended to these patients by most doctors is the Capital Care Medical Research Centre at Sangeen Darwaza,Hawal in downtown Srinagar. The centre,sources reveal,is run by four senior faculty members of the institute including the head of the Radiology Department.
At least six patients in Ward 2 of the hospital have done the MRI tests at Capital Care after being advised to do so by senior faculty members of the institute.
When Akhter was asked by the doctors to do an MRI test she went to the Radiology department of SKIMS. “They said we will have to wait for more than a week for our turn,” said Mushtaq Ahmad,Akhter’s brother. She then got the test done at Classic Hospital,a private hospital at Hyderpora Srinagar. When we showed the MRI to Dr Afzal Wani,he said it is rubbish’ and then gave us the address of Capital Care and told us to do the test there,” Mushtaq Ahmad said.
The MRI at Classic hospital cost me twenty eight hundred rupees (2800). At the Capital I had to pay another four and a half thousand rupees (4500) for the same test”.
Dr Afzal Wani was re-employed after he retired as the head of the Institute’s Neurosurgery department and like many other senior faculty members of SKIMS,he too runs a flourishing private practice despite a strict government ban.
And Naseema Akhter is not the only patient. In Ward 2,the Neurology Ward,at least six other patients have done MRI tests at the Capital Care Medical Research Centre.
Gulshan Bano,a resident of Chadoora,Budgam who is waiting in Bed 5 of the ward for a second surgery in four years is another such patient. Like Akhtar,she also did an MRI test after the Radiology Department told her to wait for “more than a week” for her turn.
She also consulted Dr Afzal at his private clinic.
Dr Afzal told us to get a new test done only at Capital care. After we did the MRI at Capital,he asked us to get admitted in the hospital,” said Abdul Hameed,Bano’s husband.
Saleema,a resident of Langate in north Kashmir,remained in the institute’s Emergency Observation Ward for nearly a month to get operated for brain tumor. She too was sent to Capital Care for MRI.
When she was not operated even after a month she left for Apollo Hospital Delhi to get the surgery done.
Doctors advised Mehraj ud din,a resident of Kupwara,an ultrasound for a suspected Abdominal Tuberculosis. “They (the doctors) said my turn will come in April,” said Mehraj ud din. “A doctor in the Radiology Department then advised me to go to Capital Care and do it there. He said it was the best place to do the test”.
The hospital authorities deny that patients have to wait long to get the tests done at the institute. “We are doing quality work here and patients do not need to do the tests privately. If they have any complaint they should come to me,” said Dr Tariq Gojwari,Head of the institute’s Radiology department.
He,however,did not deny that some doctors tell patients to get the tests done privately. “There must be some people in the institute who are indulging in such practices. I don’t know where they ask the patients to go for the tests,” Dr Gojwari said. When asked that he himself was running Capital Care where most of the patients are diverted for expensive tests,he said he cannot comment on this issue.
Who told you?” he said and dropped the phone. Neither Gojwari nor the Director of the Institute Dr Hameed Zargar took further calls for clarification on this issue.