LG calls for CBI inquiry into ‘fake tests’ at Delhi Mohalla clinics | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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LG calls for CBI inquiry into ‘fake tests’ at Delhi Mohalla clinics

Jan 05, 2024 05:20 AM IST

The AAP government in Delhi said the LG’s move only vindicated its stand against bureaucrats in the health department

Lieutenant governor VK Saxena on Thursday sought a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into alleged irregularities involving fake lab tests and ghost patients at Delhi government-run Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics (AAMCs), weeks after flagging concerns over drug samples collected from three government hospitals.

New Delhi, India - April 9, 2023: VK Saxena, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi inspects the innovative steps taken vy authorities to clean the supplementary drain opening in Yamuna River at Wazirabad in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, April 9, 2023. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)
New Delhi, India - April 9, 2023: VK Saxena, Lieutenant Governor of Delhi inspects the innovative steps taken vy authorities to clean the supplementary drain opening in Yamuna River at Wazirabad in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, April 9, 2023. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times) (Hindustan Times)

The alleged irregularities relate to two purported scrutinies by the state’s vigilance and health departments last year into Mohalla clinics and two private laboratories carrying out the lab tests that the government offers for free to poor patients. One, in August, found that doctors were fraudulently marking attendance and had been absent from clinics where unauthorised staff prescribed medicines.

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The other found that 24,399 referral papers that the labs retained as records had invalid mobile phone numbers, which the LG called evidence of fake patients.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi said the LG’s move only vindicated its stand against bureaucrats in the health department.

Delhi’s health minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said the investigations are welcome because the AAP government had been raising some of these issues, and had sought the LG take action against the health secretary and the then director general of health services (DGHS).

“As far as the health department is concerned, whether it’s attendance of staff at Mohalla Clinics or the quality of medicines, these issues are to be monitored by health department officials. And overall, DGHS looks into this with the health secretary at the top of its hierarchy. This is the responsibility of these officials to conduct random checks on their levels. Who’s appointed the DGHS? Who’s appointed the health secretary? We have not appointed them. The officials chosen by them are engaging in malpractices and they are recommending the CBI investigation. They are launching a probe against their chosen ones, not against us,” said Bharadwaj.

According to a statement released by the LG office, the inquiry found tens of thousands of fake pathology and radiology tests conducted on non-existent patients. These purportedly fake tests were referred to private labs, which are reimbursed by the government.

Ghost patients?

“Tens of thousands of tests were recommended prima facie to ‘ghost patients’. Empirical data proving entry of fake mobile numbers/blank mobile number of fictitious patients, fake attendance of doctors, and fictitious data of patients establishes wide spread corruption, manipulation of documents, forgery of records with the sole intention to loot government exchequer and extend undue benefits private parties operating the AAMCs as well as dispensaries, polyclinics and hospitals of Delhi government,” a note by Saxena on the findings of the inquiry read.

But Bharadwaj said that many of the were issues highlighted by him last year. “I had done a press conference in September to point out how in some Mohalla Clinics doctors were not regularly coming in and marking their attendance through pre-recorded videos. We had taken action against these doctors and also the support staff in these clinics,” Bharadwaj said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called the request by Saxena the latest question mark over AAP. “Arvind Kejriwal and his government, who came into politics by declaring themselves as the champions of honesty, have now descended into the epitome of corruption. Scandal after scandal is unravelling,” said Union minister Anurag Thakur.

AAP spokesperson Priyanka Kakkar later hit back, saying: “Over 230 cases have been filed on AAP leaders, however, there has not been a single conviction. Even with respect to the so-called liquor scam, not a single penny has been recovered from any of the leaders of the AAP because there is no scam and the entire ‘scam’ is the brainchild of the BJP.”

Saxena, who reports to the BJP-led Union government, has been at the centre of a bruising political war between the two parties, which also played out in court before the Centre introduced, and secured parliamentary approval, for a law that handed the effective control of the Capital’s bureaucracy to it.

Decisions on postings and transfers of bureaucrats in Delhi are, since the law was enacted, taken by the National Capital Civil Services Authority (NCCSA) led by the chief minister, with the chief secretary and principal home secretary as its members. The LG has final decision making authority and, with the principal home secretary and chief secretary appointed by the Union government, the postings are effectively in control of the Centre.

The development comes a fortnight after the LG flagged that five samples of drugs collected from three Delhi government hospitals — Lok Nayak Hospital, Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) and Deen Dayal Upadhyay Hospital — were categorised as “not of standard quality” (NSQ).

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