Nexus of Pvt hospitals, local agents in GMC fleecing patients

Many pvt ambulances illegally operating from GMC&H

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, June 16: A well-knit nexus of some reputed private hospitals from outside the State and local agents here, is operating in GMC&H, which is fleecing patients and their attendants for shifting their cases outside, while in violation of the orders of Transport  Commissioner  J&K, many private Ambulances are operating illegally without obtaining NOC from the Director  Health Services.
Official sources told the Excelsior that a mafia, being run by some middlemen/ agents of some reputed  as well as other private hospitals, is apparently controlling the affairs of transportation of  even local patients,  as Govt hospital ambulances or their drivers are hardly available at the time of need. This has happened due to mushrooming  growth of  private Ambulances during last few years with no proper control of the State Transport  authorities  and the J&K Health Services.  With this misuse of ambulances has increased in this militancy infested State.
Sources revealed that  the private players in Health sector are managing registration of Ambulances without seeking necessary NOC  from the concerned Directorate of Health 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 good business to the private Ambulances and hospitals outside the State. When a case reaches Emergency of the GMC &H, some agents/ touts  start following them and discourage  the attendants, forcing them to shift patient outside the State in private hospitals.
Even some reputed hospitals from Amritsar,  Jallandhar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh have  engaged their men just to fleece the patients and manage good business. There is urgent need to create Vigilance wing by the  GMC Hospital Administration to discourage such activities of outsiders in this major Govt Hospital of Jammu division.
A senior official 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 two dozen such vehicles are still operating from there besides others from main hospitals of Jammu city.
He also disclosed that more than 20 Govt Ambulances are available with Govt Medical College Hospital Jammu but hardly 14  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 Ambulances  was made available to  GMC Hospital during 2012, but it  remained unused for more than 5 years. Hardly three weeks back it was made operational and it is allowed only for VIP patients. The private CC Ambulances charge money ranging from Rs 30,000 to 35,000 for shifting serious patients to Ludhiana, Chandigarh or Amritsar but if  the Govt CC Ambulance is  allowed to operate for all, the poor and lower middle class people will have big relief because they have to pay even less then Rs 10,000 for it.
Principal Medical College, Govt Medical College Jammu, Dr Sunanda Raina when contacted said that Hospital Administration is taking serious note of nuisance created by private ambulances in the Hospital premises and it has  stopped allowing their parking inside the premises. She said the Police/ Security staff of the hospital has been directed not to allow parking of private ambulances  in the premises. Moreover, the only critical care ambulance which was lying non-operational for long,  has now been put to use after necessary repair  work.  She said Medical Superintendent of the Hospital has also been directed to take note of it.
Medical Superintendant  of GMC Hospital Dr Dara Singh, however, said that he had written to Regional Transport  Officer Jammu in October 2017, for seeking the list of      authorized Ambulances in Jammu division but he has not responded to our letter till date. He further claimed that he had also written a letter   to  IG Traffic in February this year, requesting him to  take action against unauthorised Ambulances operating here  but the response is still awaited.  He said that no private Ambulance is allowed in front of Emergency Unit or inside hospital premises now.  Regarding fleecing of   patients and their attendants by some agents, he said that cameras have been fitted at many places in Hospital and if anybody was caught doing so, action would be taken against him.
Regarding operation of Critical Care Ambulance, Dr Dara Singh said 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. The Govt charges are  very nominal as compared to private CC Ambulance. He said this ambulance has been put to use now.
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 big nexus involving some agents of big private hospitals from Punjab, a few Medical staff members  and drivers are operating there and it is needed to be curbed.
Transport Commissioner, J&K Saugat Viswas,  however, when asked about non implementation of his office order strictly by the RTOs and ARTOs, said that  since the matter has been brought to his notice, he would get details from the RTOs and ARTOs across the State. He said that order should be enforced strictly.  No private Ambulance is allowed registration without a  ‘no objection certificate’ from Director Health Services.  He, however, assured a strict action in this regard.


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