JAMMU, Mar 13: In blatant violation of the orders of the State Transport Commissioner and without obtaining the mandatory ‘no objections certificate’ (NOC) from the Director Health Services Jammu, dozens of private Ambulances are operating illegally and have made inroads in the Government Hospitals to fleece helpless attendants of the patients and shift them to private hospitals.
A mafia, being run by some middlemen and agents of some reputed as well as other private hospitals, is ruling the roost and apparently controlling the affairs of transportation of even local patients, as Government hospital ambulances or their drivers are hardly available at the time of need.
While the Government Ambulances will be seen parked at the backwards or at some corner of the Government run hospitals, the private ambulances fitted with modern equipment , with drivers always around and agents spread from Emergency wing to the wards, will be easily available at the main front side of the Emergency Ward these days. This has happened due to mushrooming growth of Ambulances during last few years with no proper control of the State Transport department and the J&K Health Services.
The private players are managing registration of Ambulances without seeking necessary NOC from the concerned Directorate and the Transport department is allowing their operation after registration, setting side the standing orders of Transport Commissioner. Not only this, ‘some insiders’ in the GMC&H are getting their commission for just helping, shifting of patients just to provide business to the private Ambulances.
Govt Medical College and Hospital Jammu is the worst example of this dirty practice where mushrooming growth of private Ambulances and their parking at the prime locations, even just in front of Emergency wing in the Hospital premises has been allowed even by the parking contractors, apparently with the connivance of the Hospital Administration.
Sources in the Health department said that Transport Commissioner J&K, vide his order No. 57-MVD of 2016 dated 24-06-2016, imposed some restrictions to curb the misuse of Ambulances and un-regulated sale of such vehicles (Ambulance) in the State. He ordered that no authorised dealer (Trade certificate holder) shall sell any ambulance to any private agency without specific NOC from the Director Health Services Jammu/ Srinagar.
The order also directed registering authorities RTOs/ ARTOs not to register any Ambulance of any private agency/ individual without the NOC of the Health Department. But more than dozen such vehicles are still operating from there besides others from main hospitals of Jammu city.
Interestingly, 23 Government Ambulances are available with Govt Medical College Hospital Jammu but only 15 are operational. They are mainly allowed to use within the Municipal limit. Even Hospital staff encourages private operation on the plea of good facility with them. It has been often seen that mostly these vehicles are used for ferrying own staff and movement of equipment.
A Critical Care Ambulance was made available to GMC Hospital during 2012, but till today it was hardly put to use. The private CC Ambulances charge money ranging from Rs 30,000 to 35,000 for shifting serious patients to Ludhiana or Chandigarh but if the Govt CC Ambulance is allowed to operate, the poor and lower middle class people will have big relief because they have to pay even less then Rs 10,000 for it. But it is lying almost defunct in the hospital premises.
Medical Superintendant of GMC Hospital Dr Dara Singh when contacted said that he had written to Regional Transport Officer Jammu vide letter No. 6788-89 dated 17-10-2017, for seeking the list of authorized Ambulances in Jammu division but he has not responded to our letter till date. He said after the list is made available, the scrutiny of the Ambulances will be done. He further claimed that he had also written a letter ( No. MCH/PS/11255-90) to IG Traffic on February 24, 2018 requesting him to lift unauthorised Ambulances from the GMC Hospital premises, but the response is still awaited.
He claimed that no private Ambulance is allowed in front of Emergency Unit, only that private ambulance stays there for few minutes for shifting or to drop the patient. He said the Critical Care Ambulance was out of order since long and it was now fitted with new battery. It is being put to use shortly.
The major problem of its non-operation was that no staff/ doctor is willing to travel with patient until they are provided some additional incentives. “We have written to the higher authorities to allow incentives and then this problem can be resolved. The Govt charges will be very nominal as compared to private CC Ambulance, if put to use,” Dr Singh said.
Director Health Services Jammu Dr Gurjeet Singh when contacted said that NOC from Directorate of Health Services is must for the operation or registration of private Ambulances. It has also come to his knowledge that some private players are misusing such vehicles and Transport Department and Traffic Police must curb their operation. Moreover, these vehicles should not be allowed to park inside Govt Hospitals. He said a nexus involving some Medical officers and drivers are operating there and it is needed to be curbed.
RTO Jammu, Deep Raj, however, claimed that no private Ambulance is allowed registration without a ‘no objection certificate’ from Director Health Services. He said during his tenure here in Jammu, no such private Ambulances was allowed registration. He further maintained that there would be more than 200 Ambulances including private and Govt Ambulances, registered in Jammu office of the Transport authorities. Regarding operation of unauthorized Ambulances, he said the matter was not to his knowledge.