Financial irregularities continue to plague Delhi health services

Delayed construction of hospitals and medical centres, financial irregularities in purchases and unplanned procurement of drugs and medical equipment continue to plague the Delhi health services with the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) tabled in the Assembly on Tuesday indicating multi-crore losses due to delays and mismanagement of funds by Delhi Government hospitals.

Citing examples of mismanagement, the report notes –“In GTB Hospital, a CT scanner costing Rs.7.17 crore was procured on emergency basis but installed after a delay of 20 months from the stipulated date of installation. There were many cases where machines and equipment were not functional causing delay in treatment and inconvenience to patients.’’

Accentuating the losses in the health sector by individual hospitals and adding to the woes of the patients was the fact that “no construction work had started at any of the land sites (August 2012), allotted at the cost of Rs.13.13 crore between 1997 and 2008 for construction of ten hospitals with the proposed bed capacity ranging from 60 to 700.’’

The Directorate of Health Services had also not documented procedure and practices for procurement of materials and supplies, noted the report.

“As the rates quoted by the supplier were directly linked with the estimated quantities to be supplied, Central Procurement Agency (CPA) could not take advantage of competitive rate for bulk quantities of drugs and surgical items to achieve economies of scale as envisaged in the drug policy,’’ the report pointed out.

It also noted that purchases of medicines/drugs were made much in advance of the actual requirement, resulting in significant unused balances at the end of the year.

“There was no mechanism in place to analyse the market rates of drugs during the extended period of rate contracts. This resulted in financial benefit to suppliers as the rate of drugs reduced in this period, resulting in avoidable loss of Rs.1.46 crore in purchase of drugs made by the Central Store alone,’’ the CAG report said.

The audit on the patient care facility showed that the out patient department service and emergency services were in short supply due to “lack of essential equipment, medicines and inadequate staff’’.

“All the hospitals were found to be lacking in facilities as basic as purified clean drinking water,’’ noted the report.

The Delhi Government hospitals cater to the health needs of over 160 lakh population of the city and also migratory/floating population from the neighbouring States. Ten out of the 37 government hospitals were selected on the basis of their bed strength for the audit scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the audit report also found laboratory and diagnostic facilities wanting on many counts. “Some tests were not being conducted in the hospitals as test equipments were out of order,’’ noted the report.