Punjab, Haryana govts owe Chandigarh PGIMER ₹8.74 crore
The respective state governments have to pay the cost of maintaining beds when a patient from their state gets admitted at PGIMER, but both have been defaulting, an audit has found
The state governments of Punjab and Haryana have not released maintenance cost for beds to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) for the past several years, causing the dues to mount to a whopping ₹8.74 crore, an audit report has revealed.
The office of Director General of Audit (Central), Chandigarh, had checked the institute’s accounts for April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020.
The audit, conducted by a team of assistant audit officer Ashutosh, concluded on March 25, 2021, when the director’s post was held by Dr Jagat Ram.
While scrutinising the records of cost of beds for 2019-2020, the audit found that the Punjab government had not released the maintenance cost for beds for the past several years and as on March 31, 2020, the accumulated cost was ₹7,71,84,000.
Similarly, Haryana government also owed PGIMER dues worth ₹1,03,00,000 under the same head.
35% admissions from Punjab alone
The premier health institute caters to patients from across north Indian states, but over 35% patients being admitted belong to Punjab alone.
“As per rules, the state governments have to pay the cost of maintaining the beds when a patient from their state gets admitted. But while the Haryana government usually releases the payment on time, a large amount of money is pending from Punjab government’s side. Every year, we issue official letters to the state and seek release of arrears, but to no avail,” said Kumar Abhay, financial adviser, PGIMER.
He added, “Since PGIMER is a central government-funded institute, the officials had discussed scrapping the law that mandated payment of maintenance cost by respective state governments. The cost can be borne through the annual budget funded by the Centre instead, but no decision has been finalised yet.”
Meanwhile, PGIMER’s senior officials said the institute was dedicated to providing best medical care facilities to the patients, irrespective of their domicile.
But due to a large number of referral cases, the hospital’s emergency wings run at double the capacity, with several patients being attended on stretchers.
Hospital authorities for long have maintained that the increased patient load from neighbouring states due to referrals hampers patient care at PGIMER.
“Though there is a rule to fix the quota of beds for Punjab and Haryana, but always more patients get admitted and treated at the hospital,” an official said.
711 patients left without paying bills worth ₹6.68 lakh
The audit report also pointed out that the institute suffered a loss of ₹6.68 lakh in 2019-2020, as 711 patients surreptitiously escaped from the hospital during their course of treatment without settling the bills.
According to the report, these patients were admitted in various wards of different departments of the hospital.
The institute suffered a loss of about ₹6.67 lakh on account of compulsory charges and admission charges, apart from fees relating to medicines and lab tests.
It was also found out that some of the escaped patients were admitted in the wards of Drug De-addiction Centre, communicable disease and other serious-disease wards.
“Such patients can bring harm to society at large without full treatment of the disease,” the report read.
When the audit pointed out the matter, the institute had said the action for recovery of pending dues was forwarded to the medical records department, and the matter of absconding patients was dealt as medico legal case and forwarded to the police for legal action.
Medicines worth ₹5.14 lakh expired
Meanwhile, it was noticed that out of the total medicines purchased by the institute, those amounting to ₹5.14 lakh expired between February 2017 and November 2019 due to non-requirement.
“Due to improper assessment of requirement of medicines, the institute has suffered a loss of ₹5.14 lakh, which is not in consonance with tenets of financial propriety,” the report read.
However, the institute had clarified that the medicines are purchased as per requirement and with the approval of the drugs committee, consisting of senior faculty members. Surplus quantity of medicine remained and expired in store due to availability of new and improved drugs in the market, and sudden change in the prescription and treatment pattern, it had said.