Delhi LG recommends CBI probe into 'fake' tests at Mohalla clinics

Patients at these mohalla clinics were provided medical consultation and medicines were disbursed by unauthorised staff in the absence of doctors, thus endangering the lives of the patients.
Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena. (File Photo | PTI)
Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena. (File Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Lt Governor V K Saxena has recommended a CBI probe into alleged fake lab tests and 'ghost patients' at Delhi's mohalla clinics, the Raj Niwas officials said on Thursday.

The development comes days after Saxena ordered a CBI probe into the alleged supply of drugs to Delhi government hospitals that had failed "quality standard tests".

Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj said the AAP government had last year de-empanelled several doctors and staffers at mohalla clinics for wrongdoings and also demanded the sacking of the health secretary over multiple issues.

Saxena gave adverse comments against the successive health ministers and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on the file about the matter.

According to officials, "grave" fraudulent practices are prevalent in the lab tests being carried out in the name of patients visiting Delhi government hospitals and mohalla clinics with payments being made to private labs.

"It is indicative of a scam running in hundreds of crores (of rupees). Saxena had issued these directions while clearing a file about the extension of lab testing services to private parties for patients visiting Mohalla clinics and Delhi government hospitals in December 2022," an official said.

The Delhi government's Vigilance and Health Departments investigated to look into the lab investigations that were being outsourced to private diagnostic companies.

In August last year, it was found that some doctors and staff of seven mohalla clinics in southwest, Shahdara and North-East districts resorted to "unethical practice" to fraudulently mark their attendance through pre-recorded videos, the official said.

These mohalla clinics were in Jaffar Kalan, Ujwa, Shikarpur, Gopal Nagar, Dhansa, Jagjeet Nagar and Bihari Colony, he said.

Patients at these mohalla clinics were provided medical consultation and medicines were disbursed by unauthorised staff in the absence of doctors, thus endangering the lives of the patients, the official said.

In September last year, action was taken against the staff and they were de-empanelled and FIRs were lodged against them, he said. Subsequently, a review of sample lab testing data for three months, July to September last year- retrieved from two private service providers was carried out.

"It was found that fake or non-existent mobile numbers were used for registration of patients and subsequent lab tests that were supposedly done on them, the official said.

"Also, there was duplication of mobile numbers. The data has clearly revealed that fake lab tests were carried out at these mohalla clinics that need to be further inquired," the official said.

According to the inquiry report, there were 3,092 records of different patients with the same mobile number -- 9999999999 -- while in the case of 999 patients, their mobile numbers were repeated 15 or more times.

Similarly, 11,657 patients had the mobile number zero registered against their names while in the case of 8,251 patients, the mobile number column was left blank. As many as 400 patients had a single-digit phone number.

In the file noting on the matter, Saxena said, "While tall claims are frequently made in various forums by the GNCTD (Government of the National Capital Territory of Delhi) regarding providing world-class health infrastructure in Delhi, the recent finding regarding spurious drugs and now fake lab tests, bring to the fore dark realities that belie any claims on the contrary."

Tens of thousands of tests were recommended prima facie to 'ghost patients', he noted in the file, while adding that practices like fake attendance of doctors and fictitious data of patients establish alleged "widespread corruption" with the sole intention to "loot" the government exchequer.

He also noted that it was done to extend undue benefits to private parties operating the mohalla clinics as well as dispensaries, polyclinics and hospitals of the Delhi government.

"What is even more reprehensible is the fact that the targeted population of these services at the mohalla clinics are the poorest of the poor who have no recourse to any other means than the ones being provided by the government," he said in the file.

Reacting to Saxena's recommendation of a CBI probe, Bharadwaj said the health secretary should be held responsible for the "sub-standard medicines" being supplied in Delhi government hospitals and the alleged scam at mohalla clinics.

In September last year, the AAP government had announced the de-empanelment of 26 staffers, including seven doctors, posted at mohalla clinics for allegedly trying to manipulate the attendance system, the minister said during a press conference here.

"If there are complaints about the standard of medicines or patient records in mohalla clinics, officials are responsible for it. We have already said that action should be taken against the health secretary but nothing has been done," he said.

"Why not suspend the health secretary? What are you waiting for? These people (senior officials) have been deployed by them (LG and BJP government at Centre) only," he said.

In December 2022, the Aam Aadmi Party government announced that it would provide 450 types of medical tests free of cost at its hospitals and health centres from January 1, 2023.

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