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Railways spent `2K cr referring patients to pvt hospitals: CAG

Sorry state of Railways’ functioning has been raised by the CAG, which has highlighted that despite having latest machinery and infrastructure, the department has encouraged the practice of sending patients to the expensive hospitals.

The national auditor has pointed out that out of 717 healthcare units and hospitals in 17 zones, it selected 238 units for performance audit in two parts (168 and 72 units). While going through the records, it was found that the referral expenditure to recognised non railway hospitals was nearly Rs. 1,976 Crore involving more than five lakh patients. Further scrutiny revealed that terms and conditions as per the MoU with the private hospitals were violated and not followed, leading to unwanted expenses. 

“In South Western Railways (SWR), it was observed that there was a huge gap in rates between Apollo Hospital and St John Hospital for identical treatment. The differences in rates was up to 143.4 per cent, 1052 per cent, 439 per cent and 110 per cent for cardiology, nephrology, neurosurgery and orthopedics cases. Despite having higher rates, larger number of patients (4786) were referred to Apollo than the patients (1694) referred to St. Johns Hospital,” the national auditor observed.

Though the second part of the audit is going on, it could be expected that the figure could reach nearly Rs 2,500 crore. Sources said, “There are several clauses including lowest traffic charging for railways as compared with other institutions. However, it was unfortunately not incorporated in the MoU (with private hospitals) executed in the divisional level.” For instance, it was found that despite having an advance cardiac centre at Central Hospital of Eastern Railway, patients were referred to private hospitals for cardiac treatment and the total expense between 2011 and 2013 was nearly Rs. 2 crore.

Railway Board, while defending the practice, claimed that UPSC selected candidates did not join Indian Railways Medical Services. The vacancy situation will improve if UPSC selected medical officers join the Railway. However, the national auditor refused to accept the explanation and claimed that their existing resources were not utilized properly, leading the whole mess. The Railway also faced severe criticism for procuring poor and outdated medicines at railway hospitals.
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