Exclusive: 55 Doctors Transferred To New, Expensive SVP Hospital in Ahmedabad From Existing Charitable Hospital; Trustees Call it ‘Violation of Court Assurance’
OPD charge at the PM Modi-inaugurated SVP Hospital is 10 times the charge at the charitable VS Hospital.
The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation-Medical Education Trust (AMC-MET) on Saturday, March 9 issued a circular directing 55 doctors teaching at NHL Municipal Medical College to perform their duties at the newly-constructed Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (SVP Hospital) instead of Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai Hospital (VS Hospital). In VS Hospital — established in 1931 with monetary donations from Ahmedabad-based Chinai family and Vadilal Sarabhai — patients can avail health facilities at a subsidised rate.
The VS Hospital was associated with NHL Municipal Medical College. In a board meeting last December, the corporation passed a resolution that VS Hospital will not be associated with the college. The meeting was boycotted by trustees of VS Hospital. Defending the move to transfer doctors, AMC-MET secretary Dr Kuldeep Arya told NewsCentral24x7, “VS is no more the teaching hospital and hence we have transferred the teaching staff only.”
Explaining how the resolution was passed in December, Dr Nishit Shah, board member and senior arthroscopic surgeon of VS Hospital told NewsCentral24x7, “In 2012, the AMC removed the opposition member with a ruling party corporator from the 10-member board which is responsible for running the public charitable hospitals. Thereafter, the BJP-ruled AMC has passed all resolutions using the brute majority of one.”
“This is how they managed to associate SVP Hospital with the medical college and dissociate VS Hospital in the meeting. We don’t accept this decision. We want the board to be restructured, otherwise, the AMC will take every decision in this manner. Two trustees are fighting a case in Gujarat High Court too,” he added.
As reported earlier, till 1961, the administration of both VS Hospital and Chinai Prasuti Gruh (Chinai Maternity Home) was managed by a board of nine members – four from the AMC, four from the original donor families and a doctor who was there in an advisory capacity without voting right. In 1961, the Board agreed to incorporate one additional AMC corporator and according to a letter written to the donor family representatives by then Mayor and Chairperson Jaikrishna Harivallabhdas, such member was to be a representative of the party in opposition in the AMC. However, the setup was changed in 2012 when the BJP-ruled AMC ousted the opposition member from the Board and replaced him with a fifth ruling party corporator.
Brijesh Chinai, one of the board member of VS Hospital, told NewsCentral24x7, “As per assurance of the advocate general in court – there would be no illegal transfer of any staff. We are quite surprised that such a step (to transfer 55 doctors) is announced in violation of the court assurance.” Brijesh Chinai and Rupa Chinai — trustees of the two public hospitals — have moved a Special Civil Application in the Gujarat High Court against the decision of the AMC to shift beds from VS Hospital to the new healthcare facility without their consent. They have also alleged that the AMC is transferring the staff in an attempt to promote the 17-floor, helipad-equipped SVP Hospital which is reportedly built at a cost of Rs 528 crore.
Dr Pankaj Patel, dean of NHL Municipal Medical College suggested that the doctors will work only in the teaching hospital. “Now, Sardar Vallabhai Patel is the teaching hospital, VS is not the teaching hospital. That’s why the doctors have been shifted as they have to work at the teaching hospital. To my knowledge, they (trustees) are already appointing non-teaching staff and consultant doctors in VS Hospital, some have joined also,” he told NewsCentral24x7.
Rupa Chinai, however, refuted his statement saying, “All these claims are sub-judice. Don’t know what he is talking about trustees hiring consultants.”
Rs 10 for OPD consultation at VS Hospital, Rs 100 at SVP Hospital
As per a report published in The Indian Express by Sohini Ghosh, the OPD charges are not covered under any government health scheme. At SVP Hospital, patients, irrespective of their economic background, have to pay Rs 100 for OPD consultation. The first time a patient visits SVP, they are to pay Rs 50 for registration and Rs 50 for consultation. If the doctor asks the patient to visit again within a week, the patient does not have to pay an additional charge, however, if the patient visits after a week, they have to pay Rs 50 as consultation charge.
This is in sharp contrast to the rates charged at VS Hospital for OPD consultation: Rs 10.
“In the new hospital, they should provide as many beds at free or subsidised rates as were available in VS Hospital before the services were taken over. Then I have no problem with the new hospital,” Gagan Sethi of Ahmedabad-based NGO Centre for Social Justice, told NewsCentral24x7.
“In case they reduce it (the number of beds), then it’s a way to stop services to the poor and start doing this private-public partnership (PPP) business and build a swanky hospital just for the rich. I think many aspects are involved in this, there is a trust which is providing humanitarian services to the poor and in the new setup are they going to serve as many poor people that has to be seen,” he added.
As per a report in Ahmedabad Mirror by Brendan Dabhi, the city’s Civil Hospital is understaffed. The Gynaecology Department has only four doctors — a Professor, an Associate Professor and two Assistant Professors — while it needs 18 doctors to run six units or more than 200 beds. Similarly, the paediatrics department has just four doctors and the requirement is that of 16 doctors.
Commenting on the Ahmedabad Mirror report, Sethi said, “There is a systematic process to weaken public healthcare system and move towards privatisation. This is where we have a problem with the manner in which this government is changing the entire healthcare system. They are making the poor pay more for health services and assuming that the insurance system will work. It is a larger design just see who are running the big hospitals.”