Delhi LG recommends CBI probe into 'fake' tests at mohalla clinics
The development comes days after the LG ordered a CBI probe into the supply of drugs to Delhi government hospitals that allegedly failed "quality standard tests"
Delhi lieutenant governor V.K. Saxena has recommended a CBI probe into alleged fake lab tests and ghost patients in the Delhi government's mohalla clinics, 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 Aam Aadmi Party government had last year de-empanelled several doctors and staff in mohalla clinics for wrongdoing, and also demanded the sacking of the health secretary.
According to officials, "grave" fraudulent practices have been found to be 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 into hundreds of crores (of rupees). Saxena had issued these directions while clearing a file pertaining to 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 carried out an investigation 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 South-West, Shahdara and North-East districts resorted to "unethical practices" 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 added.
Patients at these clinics were provided medical consultation and medicines were disbursed by unauthorised staff in the absence of doctors, thus endangering lives, the official said. In September 2023, action was taken against the staff and they were de-empanelled, with FIRs being lodged against them, he said.
Subsequently, a review of sample lab testing data for three months — July to September 2023 — 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 in these mohalla clinics."
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.
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 in mohalla clinics.
In September 2023, the AAP government had announced the de-empanelment of 26 staff, including seven doctors, posted in mohalla clinics, for allegedly trying to manipulate the attendance system, the minister said during a press conference in New Delhi.
"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 AAP government had announced that it would provide 450 types of medical tests free of cost in its hospitals and health centres from 1 January 2023.