The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hospital alert on meal deals

Concerned over malpractices in the supply of meals in the medical colleges and other state-run hospitals, the health department has directed all its medicare centres to crosscheck the orders and payments made earlier.

The decision follows cases of corruption unearthed at the School of Tropical Medicine (STM) last week, where the contractor had supplied meals far exceeding the number of patients admitted in the hospital. The health department has sought a clarification from the STM authorities.

"We were surprised to see a bill raised for meals supplied to 150 patients, when the number of patients was only 50. We are inquiring into the incident,'' said Jayashri Mitra, principal of Calcutta Medical College, holding additional charge of STM.

According to health department officials, lunch and dinner are served to patients as per the indent placed by the resident medical officer (RMO). Meal orders are placed on the contractor on the basis of the number of patients admitted in the hospital and supplied with the meals.

“The contractor's bills seemed to be raised for meals supplied to all the patients. In fact, the diet bills are calculated as per the bed strength of any hospital, and surprisingly, bills are paid without a crosscheck. There is no doubt that a section of hospital staff is involved into the malpractice,'' officials said.

Besides, the officials added, if there are 500 indoor patients, not all are supplied with lunch or dinner. There are many patients who either do not need the meals or are on a special diet. Many even have their food brought in by their relatives.

Director of medical education C.R. Maity said it had been brought to his notice that there were discrepancies in the number of food-plates supplied and the bills paid for it. “We have asked all the hospital authorities to crosscheck their food bills to prevent such malpractice,” Maity said.

“All the medical colleges and other hospitals maintain a register with details of patients admitted. We have asked to see the food bills to check whether the number of food-plates supplied by the contractor tallies with the number of patients in the the admission register,” Maity said.

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