Maharashtra govt to issue ‘white paper’ on BMC hospitals, probe their medicine purchases

Mumbai: A high-level inquiry will be conducted into allegations of misappropriation in purchase of medicines by Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-run hospitals, Maharashtra Minister Uday Samant told the state assembly on Friday.

A ‘white paper’ (a comprehensive report) on services provided by civic hospitals to its patients in Mumbai will also be published, he said and assured the House the allegations of misappropriation and deficiency in providing services by them will be thoroughly investigated.

Samant, who holds the industries portfolio, was speaking in his capacity as in-charge of the urban development department, which has been entrusted to him for the ongoing Monsoon session of the state legislature. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde holds the urban development department.

The issue about healthcare facilities in Mumbai was raised in the House by Amin Patel (Congress).

Speaking on the matter, Ashish Shelar (BJP), a former minister, presented an overview on medical facilities in the financial capital.

He said since Mumbai is a capital city, patients from rural areas come here for treatment in large numbers.

There are various hospitals in Mumbai, including those run by the municipal body, the state government, private and charitable organisations, and some for central government employees, but there is absolutely no coordination between all these medical establishments, Shelar maintained.

Hence, the state government must come up with a white paper on the number of patients coming to Mumbai and whether adequate facilities exist to take care of them.

Also, expenditure incurred on all these healthcare facilities must be evaluated while publishing the white paper, demanded the BJP MLA from Bandra (West) in the metropolis.

Services provided by hospitals under the jurisdiction of the charity commissioner must be reviewed to verify whether they are following the directives laid down by the state government, Shelar said.

The Mumbai civic body, on an average, spends nearly Rs 4,000 crore on health facilities every year which means a sum of Rs 20,000 crore was spent over the last five years. This amount must have been spent on approximately 45,000 patients. But unfortunately, there is misappropriation in providing health services, he alleged.

Mumbaikars do not get the facilities equivalent to the taxes they pay every year. There is disparity at all levels. Although the BMC has spent Rs 20,000 crore in five years on health services, people haven’t received facilities equivalent to this amount, said the BJP legislator, who is also president of the party’s city unit.

Patients coming to civic hospitals are asked to buy necessary medicines and also get various diagnostic tests like X-ray and sonography done from outside. This proves there is corruption in their management which must be thoroughly investigated, Shelar said.

He said medicines and injections given at private hospitals are exorbitantly priced and patients are made to suffer. Hence, the government must come up with a rate card for these services.

A large number of cancer patients come to Mumbai for treatment and relatives accompanying them face a lot of problems in terms of accommodation and other facilities. Hence, the government must construct buildings where relatives of these patients can be temporarily housed, he said.

Manisha Choudhary (BJP) also raised the issue of poor healthcare facilities in suburbs during this discussion.

In response, minister Samant accepted the demand for a white paper and also announced that a high-level inquiry will be conducted into procurement of medicines by BMC hospitals.

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