Special teams of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) conducted simultaneous searches at 10 major government hospitals across the State, early Friday. The surprise checks were based on specific inputs of corrupt practices and irregularities in labour wards, diagnostic services, mortuary and other departments, sources in the agency said.
The searches were conducted at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and the Kasturba Gandhi Hospital for Women and Children in Chennai and hospitals in eight other districts, including Tiruvallur, Salem, Madurai, Cuddalore and Dindigul.
While the operation was on till late on Friday, investigators said they seized documents relating to certain irregularities and unaccounted money from workers deployed in labour wards and the mortuary.
‘Signs of bribery’
“We have come across irregularities like unauthorised absence of staff from duty in some departments. Our enquiries revealed corrupt practices in the radio diagnostic services where patients referred by doctors are forced to pay bribes. Even in the mortuary, there are allegations that the staff demanded money for releasing bodies after post-mortem is done,” a DVAC official said.
The operation followed a search at the Kancheepuram government hospital, where ₹45,000 excess cash was seized from the staff deployed in some areas of medical services, the DVAC sources said.
The allegation is that the staff demand money from attendees of patients in the labour ward to inform them of the details about the newborn, such as time of birth, gender etc. “When a baby is born, the staff demand bribe to inform the father or relatives. The demand is more when it is a baby boy. Some workers at mortuaries demand money even to release bodies after post-mortem. We have recorded the statements of people who came forward to give complaints,” the official said.
In a couple of hospitals, investigators found that the food from centralised kitchen was served to 50 in-patients whereas the register showed 75 names. Fictitious names were brought on record to escalate the bills.
In another hospital, the staff allegedly abandoned the mortuary on seeing DVAC officials entering the premises. The police had to request other hospital staff to dispatch the bodies, the sources said.
“Every hospital has to maintain a cash register where the staff have to declare the cash on hand at the time of reporting for work. The excess cash would be calculated on their declaration in the register. If such registers were not found to be maintained, appropriate action would be initiated against those responsible for the same”, the official said.
Though there were many other allegations of corruption and irregularities across government hospitals, the DVAC made a beginning with malpractices involving lower-level staff and technicians, the official said, adding that investigators would also look into the working hours and attendance of hospital employees, particularly of technical staff.
One of the allegations that the DVAC is looking at is the non-implementation of the biometric attendance system, the official added.
In a separate development, the Madras Medical College issued orders directing all Post-Graduate/Diploma/Higher Speciality course candidates to register their names in the biometric system in the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. The move was to monitor the attendance of the candidates who are paid stipend at the State’s expense, official sources added.