Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Government hospitals known for bad maintenance

One may be easily mistaken by the serene look of government hospitals spread across the heart of the city. But make no mistake about it -- these government hospitals are known for bad maintenance. Name it. Toilets to corridors to balconies are dirty, unwashed and stinking.

Such a condition exists although the hospitals are adequately staffed, at least on the record. In reality, only ghostly figures exist in attendance registers.

Several employees in government hospitals are simply names on paper who are non-existent. Some simply draw salaries and never come to work.

The wage register at Vani Vilas Hospital for February and March shows 59 names of workers under the housekeeping section. But 21 of them don't exist. Salaries of imaginary employees are then regularly drawn by hospital officials and contractors.

The Unorganized Sector Labour Unit has filed a complaint with Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde, medical education secretary, dean and director of BMCRI, and vice-chancellor of RGUHS.

"Payment to contractors is based on the attendance register certified by the matron, resident medical officer and other hospital officials. Contractors have been misusing BMCRI funds for long," the unorganised sector labour union's president Prem Kumar told The Times of India.

According to the Minimum Wages Act, wages must be paid in presence of authorized hospital representatives and persons who can endorse that the minimum wage has been paid.

No government hospital TOI visited followed this rule. According to the Act, wages must be paid on working days before the 7th of every month. Sources, however, confirmed that wages are paid on second Saturdays or Sundays.

Existing staff and even hard-working employees find it difficult to work properly due to this racket. Some contract workers recruited for sweeping and cleaning are used as ward boys, kitchen attendants and labour ward cleaners. These complicated tasks are supposed to be handled by skilled, permanent hospital staff.

"We had 230 Group D posts sanctioned. Of this, 125 are outsourced and the rest (105 personnel) are permanent. I can't assure if all of them are working here. We've many supervisors in the hospital to look into each department. But we can launch an investigation only based on a complaint,"

Vani Vilas Hospital medical superintendent O S Siddappa told TOI. "You should ask BMCRI authorities are because they're in charge of recruiting contractors," Siddappa added.

"We've found deficiency in the workforce as well as deviation and violation in the contract. Last week, on receiving a bill from a contractor and finding misappropriation, we visited Vani Vilas Hospital and paid only those workers who were actually working at the hospital," said BMCRI dean and director G T Subhash.

"I've written to the medical superintendent to investigate the matter, and if need be, we will cancel the tender and blacklist the contractor," Subhash added.

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