Few days after Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena had ordered a CBI probe into allegations of spurious drugs being supplied in Delhi Govt Hospitals, a fresh trouble erupted for the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government over the state-run Mohalla Clinic in the capital city on Thursday. Lt Governor Saxen recommended a CBI investigation into free lab tests and ghost patients conducted at mohalla clinics after ‘massive irregularities’ were found in the process.
Reacting to the development, Delhi health minister Saurabh Bharadwaj blamed health officials and Health Secretary for the alleged irregularities and demanded the sacking of officials. people under probe for allegedly supplying substandard drugs to city hospitals were chosen by “them” and not his party’s government, said Mr Bhardwaj.
As per the Raj Niwas officials, “grave” fraudulent practices have been found to be prevalent in the lab tests being carried out in the name of patients visiting Delhi government hospitals and mohalla clinics with payments being made to private labs.
“It is alarming to say the least, that within a span of few days, I have been presented with another file, after the one dealing with ‘Not of Standard Quality’ drugs being supplied in government hospitals and Mohalla Clinics – wherein, now gross irregularities in the lab testing being done by private agencies in Mohalla Clinics has been brought to the fore”, LG Mr Saxena has noted on the file.
An official said that it is indicative of a scam running in hundreds of crores (of rupees). Mr Saxena had issued these directions while clearing a file pertaining to the extension of lab testing services to private parties for patients visiting mohalla clinics and Delhi government hospitals in December 2022,” the official said.
The Delhi government’s Vigilance and Health Departments carried out an investigation to look into the lab investigations that were being outsourced to private diagnostic companies. In August last year, it was found that some doctors and staff of seven mohalla clinics in southwest, Shahdara and North-East districts resorted to “unethical practice” to fraudulently mark their attendance through pre-recorded videos, the official said.
These mohalla clinics were in Jaffar Kalan, Ujwa, Shikarpur, Gopal Nagar, Dhansa, Jagjeet Nagar and Bihari Colony, he said. Patients at these Mohalla Clinics were provided medical consultation and medicines were disbursed by unauthorised staff in the absence of doctors, thus endangering the lives of the patients, the official said.
“It was found that fake or non-existent mobile numbers were used for registration of patients and subsequent lab tests that were supposedly done on them, the official said. “Also, there was duplication of mobile numbers. The data has clearly revealed that fake lab tests were carried out at these mohalla clinics that need to be further inquired,” the official said.
According to the inquiry report, there were 3,092 records of different patients with the same mobile number — 9999999999 — while in the case of 999 patients, their mobile numbers were repeated 15 or more times. Similarly, 11,657 patients had the mobile number zero registered against their names while in the case of 8,251 patients, the mobile number column was left blank. As many as 400 patients had a single-digit phone number.