‘Anyone undergoing surgery at Vani Vilas has to pay the treating doctor’

Rekha Lakshman, a 35-year-old mother of four from Ramchandrapuram in the city, who recently got admitted to the State-run Vani Vilas Hospital for a family planning operation, was shocked when she was asked to pay Rs. 5,000.

Admitted in the “A” unit of OBG Department, Ms. Lakshman paid up because she was unaware that family planning procedures are incentive-based and conducted under the national family planning programme.

“We were told that patients do not get proper medical attention if money is not paid,” said Chandramma, her aunt.

Last week, three women admitted in the unit were prepared for Caesarean deliveries the previous night. But they were taken up for surgery only after they arranged to pay the doctor, a patient attendant told The Hindu. These are not stray cases. “Anyone undergoing a surgery in the hospital — be it a tubectomy, laparoscopy, hysterectomy or Caesarean section — has to pay the treating doctor and the amount is usually more than Rs. 3,000,” alleged a staffer.

Gone are the days when patients only talked of the money they had to pay to security guards, ayahs, ward boys and nurses. The latest trend is about how doctors, including the Medical Superintendent, the Resident Medical Officer and the Heads of the Departments, demand money for every surgery from patients, alleged sources in the hospital. “The gullible women, who are mostly illiterate from the city’s slums and neighbouring areas, are made to believe that their case is serious and that it would cost them a huge sum if they went to a private hospital. They end up meeting the doctor’s demand as they have no other go,” the sources said.

Not isolated

The Hindu had on previous occasions highlighted the rampant corruption in this hospital. “People who come to government hospitals are only those who cannot afford treatment in private hospitals. The government should do something concrete to set right the system,” said Hasmathulla, an attendant to another patient.

Hospital Medical Superintendent Some Gowda said that action could be initiated against those indulging in corruption if people came forward and submitted specific complaints. When pointed out that there were allegations against him too, Dr. Some Gowda denied it and said that anyone could accompany him during his rounds. “There are some doctors and staffers in the hospital who are trying to tarnish my image,” he said.

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