Expressing strong reservation, Delhi L-G approves AAP’s proposal to outsource lab services

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New Delhi, Dec 28 (IANS) The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, V.K. Saxena, has agreed to Arvind Kejriwal government’s proposal to outsource diagnostic and lab services in government hospitals to three private players.

“Expressing grave reservations on an obvious attempt at private outsourcing of diagnostic services in Delhi government hospitals, rather than strengthening them, L-G V.K. Saxena has agreed to the Kejriwal government’s decision to outsource diagnostic and lab services in government hospitals to three private players, as a fait accompli presented to him. The decision being garbed by the AAP and its ministers as extension of diagnostic services in mohalla clinics beyond 31.12.2022, is in fact, an exercise to extend private outsourcing to all Delhi government health facilities,” the L-G secretariat said.

The Delhi government through a Cabinet decision dated July 28, 2022, had decided to outsource diagnostic services in the government health facilities such as hospitals, dispensaries, polyclinics and health camps, including PUHCs, on the same pattern that exists in the mohalla clinics. The Cabinet decision to this effect has also selected three private vendors for providing such services in the above-mentioned government facilities and also in the mohalla clinics. The government presented the proposal to the L-G for concurrence on December 12.

“Caught on a wrong footing, due to an obvious lapse of not having taken a decision on time, and even after deciding way back in August, not sending the file to L-G for concurrence, the AAP and its ministers, specifically Manish Sisodia, indulged in characteristic gimmickry. Even while no decision had been taken, they kept announcing things in media and to avoid embarrassment, after sending the file to the L-G on 12.12.2022, Sisodia wrote to the L-G on 24.12.2022, in just eight working days, requesting clearance of the file,” the L-G office said.

Saxena, while concurring to the decision, has noted that, doing so “is prima facie admission that government hospitals/facilities run by the state government have failed on the parameters of something as basic as pathological and diagnostic testing. While such a decision on the part of the governments in remote places, that lack facilities in terms of physical infrastructure and trained medical professionals in the government sector, would have made sense, it obviously does not meet the requirements of a rational decision in the capital of the country, owing to the fact that government hospitals/facilities in Delhi run by GNCTD, as often claimed by the government itself, are replete with ample physical infrastructure in terms of building, space, machinery and equipment as indeed medical professionals of highest caliber”.

Emphasising that the Delhi government should have strengthened the existing health set up, so as to enable them to provide quality diagnostic services even to the mohalla clinics, instead of outsourcing them, the L-G said, “I am constrained to mention that the ideal way forward in this regard would have been to strengthen and augment capacities of the government hospitals/facilities to the extent, that they became enabled to provide labs/diagnostic services to the mohalla clinics, instead of the other way around as is being proposed through the instant cabinet decision.

“In my opinion, this will further undermine the diagnostic capacities of our healthcare system at large, the strengthening of which obviously seems to have been ignored by the government for quite some time. It is also to be thought, as to what would the existing physical infrastructure and full-fledged pathology departments in the government hospitals/facilities will do, henceforth.”

The L-G in his noting on the file has also claimed that despite the number of mohalla clinics rising to 519 from 450 in 2022, the number of patients being treated there has come down from 3,416 per month per clinic in 2021 to 1,824 patients in 2022. Even as the number of patients came down, the number of tests being prescribed rose from 6,30,978 per month in 2021 to 9,30,000 per month in 2022, he claimed.

In this regard, the L-G has also advised that an impact assessment study for the quality of laboratory tests done during the last three years and payment of bills thereof should be essentially carried out by a government agency/committee of experts and senior officials within the next three months and the report thereof be submitted to the L-G secretariat.



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