In March this year, the union health ministry sent CK Mishra, one of its senior-most officers to inspect the medical facilities at AIIMS, Patna. His report was a devastating expose on the mess the institute was in.
“The overall experience at AIIMS, Patna was disheartening and did not inspire confidence,” Mishra wrote on his return to Delhi. AIIMS, Patna was one of the six new institutes set up to spread top quality medical services and education to regions beyond Delhi.
First proposed by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2003, the six institutes were set up by the UPA between 2009 and 2012.
But after spending hundreds of crores, the new institutes are in shambles. The director of AIIMS, Patna is facing grave charges of administrative and financial irregularities, while the recruitment of the faculty for all the institutes is a matter of a CBI inquiry.
Mishra’s report detailed how patients and students were suffering due to the mess. “The diagnostic facilities are inadequate even from the point of view of a normal hospital, let alone an institution like AIIMS,” he wrote.
While the 90 beds for patients had arrived, Mishra did not find any patient admitted to the hospital. “I also visited the operation theatre which is only functional to the extent as it would in a small hospital,” he wrote.
The training of future doctors was also in a mess and Mishra found that practical training was suffering due to lack of laboratories for pathology, microbiology and pharmacology. Even basic equipment like microscopes were not available for the students, Mishra recorded.
The other institutes are not faring better either. Audits of the institutes commissioned by the office of the chief controller of accounts now show large scale cost overruns and financial irregularities. Draft audit reports of AIIMS, Bhopal and Bhubaneshwar, accessed by Hindustan Times show several financial failures.
The audit found “unauthorised payments” to the contractor responsible for setting up the main buildings on the AIIMS, Bhopal campus. Terming these as “serious irregularities,” the audit committee recommended that the matter should be investigated, and “appropriate action” taken against the officials concerned.
In Bhubaneshwar the audit committee found major slippages in the construction of the hospital and administrative buildings. While the contractor claimed that it had finished nearly 84 percent of the work, the audit committee found that it was closer to 64 percent.
Delays, the report noted, had pushed back deadlines by nearly 18 months. The findings prompted union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to send out detailed directives to the six directors since Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to formally dedicate the hospitals on December 25 this year.