Hospital Development Fund

Most of it is used to pay “salaries” of HDF staff; rest to buy items like electronic gadgets.

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
Srinagar, Publish Date: Jan 12 2019 11:15PM | Updated Date: Jan 12 2019 11:15PM
Hospital Development FundRepresentational pic

Almost two decades back Jammu & Kashmir Government created Hospital Development Fund (HDF). The basic aim of creating this local fund in Government hospitals from a Primary Health Center (PHC) to associated hospitals of Government Medical Colleges was to guarantee efficacious healthcare for underprivileged and disadvantaged communities. The earning on account of HDF is generated from various pathological tests, sale of hospital prescription tickets, X-rays  etc.  At the outset of this scheme, 50% of the revenue generated under HDF was being deposited in a Government account through local treasuries. The rest of the income was deposited in the local branch of J&K Bank. The actual plan of creating this local fund was to use it for purchase of lab reagents, laboratory equipment’s, important drugs or even undertaking minor repairs in hospital. Government issued clear cut instructions that except for the purchase of life saving drugs etc HDF should not be used elsewhere. The Government Order No. 954 HME of 2000 Dated: 21-12-2000 and Government Order No. 150-HME of 2005 Dated: 15-3-2005,  makes it ample clear that the there is no room or scope for engaging people or purchasing fancy items for hospital staff under HDF. People are unable to understand how these orders were disregarded and surpassed ?  From last more than 10 years the local legislators (MLAs / MLCs) under a secret understanding with Medical Superintendents, Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) and Block Medical Officers (BMOs) have not only engaged large number of people in Govt hospitals on nominal wages but the revenue generated is now being used to buy furnishing items,  ACs and LCDs. These items are used by local hospital administrators rather than patients taking benefit out of it. To ensure large scale bungling 100 % revenue generated from prescription tickets, x-rays, lab tests etc., is now deposited in HDF account. This poor taxpayer's money, instead of being utilized for public good is being used to pay honorarium to HDF employees and rest is lavishly spent for personal comforts of senior health officers. 

Exploited lot

Persons who have been employed under HDF is actually an exploited lot of people. The local MLAs & political leaders who recommend these people to be employed under HDF get bribes and other kickbacks in return. These exploited men and women are given an impression that they are being offered a Govt job. Now we have more than 6000 such people who are demanding regularization.  Unfortunately these people are nothing but bonded labourers. Hospital authorities pay them mere Rs 2500 to Rs 4000 per month which is itself a violation of J&K Minimum Wages Act 2018 wherein skilled people can’t be paid less than Rs 350 per day and unskilled are to be paid Rs 225 per day. Majority of HDF appointees are skilled people but they continue to be exploited along with poor patients.    

Hospital labs  

Recently a news report went viral on social media wherein a Lab Technician posted at a Govt PHC in Chadoora block, in addition to his own job was  minting money from poor patients by acting as an agent of a private laboratory. The said employee used to collect blood samples from poor patients who have to borrow money before going to a Govt hospital. The technician who is paid for the job by Government has a double income. One from his salary and another from private laboratories based in Srinagar or Chadoora to whom he send the blood sample for investigations.  I am not cornering this single technician but we have hundreds of such greedy and wolfish people in Govt run hospitals whose only aim is to skin off poor and marginalized. Why cannot hospital authorities purchase analyzers or other lab equipment’s under HDF money ? These equipment’s  can be made available at Government Sub District hospitals (SDHs) or District Hospitals and the blood sample collected from PHCs can be send there on regular basis. But who will explore these ideas ?

 Conclusion 

A simple body x-ray costs just Rs 70 at SKIMS, but is charged around Rs 150 to 200 in District hospital Pulwama. Rs 200 is charged for the Liver Function Test (LFT) in same hospital while as in SHMS hospital or SKIMS only Rs 40 are charged for it. The mockery of it all is that even after charging exorbitant rates the direct beneficiaries are not patients but some other people.  75 % of the HDF revenue is used to pay so called “salaries” of HDF staff. The rest is used to buy luxurious items and electronic gadgets. From last less than 2 years around Rs 67 lakhs have been generated by District Hospital Pulwama alone under HDF. This money could have been used to buy a CT scan or MRI machine on installment basis but such an option was not even explored. On the other hand poverty stricken, ailing men & women who come with a hope to Government hospitals leave back hopelessly. There are many upright and honest medical and paramedical staff in Govt hospitals, but their voice is muzzled by an organized mafia that operates in Health & Medical education department.  

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is Founder & Chairman Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement  

muzaffar.rti@gmail.com

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