Bhopal: In a major crackdown on hospitals and nursing homes that were opened during the COVID-19 pandemic but ran without the required infrastructure and expert doctors, the Madhya Pradesh Health Department has cancelled the registration of 60 hospitals and served notices to 301 hospitals upon inspection on July 28.
The order copy of the Health Department states that 692 hospitals have been inspected between April and July this year to check the parametres of operating nursing homes as per the existing rules under MP Upcharyagriha Tatha Rujopachar Sambandhi Sathapanaye (Registration Tatha Anugyapan) Act 1973.
Out of 60 hospitals, registration of the top 24 healthcare centres was cancelled in Gwalior, followed by 10 in Bhopal and five in Sehore district.
In Gwalior, 70 hospitals were inspected by the medical team, registration of 24 have been cancelled and notices were served to all. Similarly, in Bhind, 37 hospitals were inspected, 19 were served with notice and three hospitals were asked to shut. As far as the state capital is concerned, 46 hospitals were inspected in Bhopal; of them registration of 10 were cancelled and 23 of them reserved with notice.
In Shajapur (26), Datia (18), Chhindwara (20), Dhar (6) and Harda (13) notices were served to all hospitals, which were inspected by the medical team. "Stern action will be taken against those hospitals if they failed to give proper reply to the served notice," said a health official.
As the health infrastructure crumbled in both waves of the pandemic, hundreds of private hospitals and nursing homes cropped up across the state. As per Health Department records, in the major cities, licenses were given to 212 healthcare centres between January 2020 to May 2021 in Bhopal, followed by Gwalior with 116, 48 in Indore and 34 in Jabalpur.
According to media reports, a doctor was found registered in 8-10 hospitals as a resident doctor. In some cases, the doctor who has taken the license of the healthcare centre did not work there. In one case, the license was taken for intensive care unit (ICU), surgery, medicine along with facilities like operation theatre and blood bank which are also mentioned in the billboard hanging on the front of the hospital, but neither the hospital has expert doctors nor the facilities. Startlingly, patients were treated there.
"It's strange that the state, which has a shortage of over 4,900 doctors, 16,000 nursing staffs, and thousands of other medical staff in the government-run hospitals, has given license to hundreds of hospitals in haste without inspection," said Amulya Nidhi of Jan Swasth Abhiyan.
"If those healthcare centres were inspected properly at the time of registration, this could be avoided and hundreds of lives would be saved," he alleged, adding that stern action must be taken against the officials concerned who have approved the licenses.
Coming down heavily on the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government, the opposition Congress alleged that the Chief Medical Health Officers (CMHOs) took bribes and allowed those healthcare centres to run without infrastructure and expert doctors, which led to the death of many innocent patients who visited those hospitals to get treatment.
"Cancelling registration of 60 hospitals is just an eyewash. In Bhopal itself over 100 hospitals were opened in just a year and hundreds of similar hospitals have mushroomed across the state. How is that possible?" asked Bhupendra Gupta, Vice President, State Congress Media Cell.
He further alleged that the Health Minister was himself a doctor but he allowed the hospitals without doctors to run, which robbed and killed people during the pandemic.
Demanding a judicial probe into the matter, Gupta said, "The state government should immediately order judicial probe into the matter and probe the involvement of CMHOs of the districts who allowed to run those hospitals.”