Following a row over empanelment of undeserving hospitals, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has constituted a committee with experts from Tata Memorial Cancer Institute, Mumbai, to inspect the remaining 17 hospitals empanelled under the Mukh Mantri Punjab Cancer Rahat Kosh Scheme (MMPCRKS). The committee will inspect the empanelled hospitals at regular intervals.
Sources in the health department said the committee constituted on Badal's orders had already started work by inspecting Guru Ram Das Medical College and Hospital, Amritsar, and Government Medical College, Patiala.
The committee comprises two experts from the Mumbai hospital. It also includes principal (or their representative) of Government Medical College and Hospitals in Amritsar and Patiala. The nodal officer for the scheme is the convener of the committee.
According to health department officials, the committee will inspect the infrastructure and cancer care facilities at all 17 hospitals, which are currently empanelled under the scheme. The officials said the inspection of these hospitals would be conducted every six months.
In a two-part series, HT had highlighted that the scheme was not benefiting patients and hospitals had been empanelled despite being ill-equipped to deal with cancer cases.
Following the HT series 'Cancer of corruption' (April 19-20), Badal had told the state health department to probe into the role of officials responsible for the empanelment of undeserving hospitals under the scheme. Nineteen undeserving hospitals out of the 36 were dis-empanelled from the scheme.
A technical committee constituted under the chairmanship of Dr JS Thakur of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, had recommended removing 11 hospitals from the scheme panel.
The cancer relief scheme was started in June 2011 for patients who don't have insurance cover or are not government employees. The government extends financial help up to a maximum of Rs. 1.5 lakh each for cancer treatment at 17 empanelled hospitals.