Around 50 medical testing machines lie unused and in need of servicing at civic hospitals for years, as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has failed to sign maintenance contracts with private companies from which the machines were bought.
At King Edward Memorial Hospital (KEM), annual maintenance contracts for 40 machines wait renewal. In her letter to the dean, the head of the neurology department has said: “Kindly expedite the matter as early as possible as the machines are not working and need immediate servicing.” A letter was also sent in May 2012 asking authorities to sign the agreements. However, repeated notifications have failed to prompt action.
“Despite having funds, the BMC is not willing to spend Rs 20,000 for maintenance of a machine. At Sion and Nair hospitals, too, patients and doctors regularly complain about the same thing,” said corporator Vinod Shelar.
At KEM, Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) machines were bought by the corporation a few years ago. However, because they have not been maintained, two of the machines became unusable. A doctor then spoke to the company, after which two demo machines were given free of cost to the hospital with one-year warranty. The machines, which were maintained by the company till March 2012, now wait for renewal of contracts.
To conduct one EMG test, the civic hospital charges Rs450. Around 600 tests are conducted in a year at each hospital, earning a revenue of Rs2,70,000 annually. “In the 2011-12 budget, Rs1,672.47 crore was allocated for health care, but the civic body only spent Rs1,175 crore,” he said.
Additional municipal commissioner Manisha Mhaiskar said the AMCs were not signed as the medico electric cell (MEC) was overloaded with work and could not send a no-objection certificate (NOC) to the dean in order to get the agreements signed. “We will now change how the system works. Powers to sign the maintenance contract will now be handed over to the dean without the necessity to obtain an NOC,” she said, adding that the decision on these pending agreements would be taken within seven days.