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Probe into illegal private practice, Swasthya Sathi misuse by six government doctors

Four surgeons in Malda and a doctor each in Kolkata and Murshidabad among accused

Sanjay Mandal | Published 07.01.23, 07:12 AM
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At least six government doctors are under probe for allegedly ignoring their hospital work and doing private practice or misusing the Swasthya Sathi scheme, officials said on Friday.

Disciplinary proceedings have been started against four surgeons at a government hospital in Malda and a doctor at a government hospital in Murshidabad for allegedly being engaged in private practice without the government’s permission. 


“They were receiving non-practising allowances from the state government but were found to be treating patients at private nursing homes,” a senior official of the state health department said on Friday.

“We have started disciplinary proceedings against all five doctors.” 

A surgeon at a government hospital in Kolkata was found to be doing an “incredible number of surgeries in a day” under the Swasthya Sathi scheme at a private hospital, the official said.

The anti-corruption bureau of the state government is conducting a probe against the doctor and the hospital. 

“Documents in possession of the government revealed that the doctor was performing around 40 surgeries in a day at the private facility under the Swasthya Sathi scheme. It is impossible to conduct so many surgeries by one surgeon in a day,” an official said.

“During investigation, it was found that the doctor was on leave and out of Kolkata on vacation. We have handed the matter to the anti-corruption bureau of the state government.” 

All six doctors could be suspended if the charges against them are found to be true, the official said. 

The Telegraph had in November reported that the state health department was gearing up to crack down on government doctors who were treating patients at private healthcare units without permission or luring patients from government hospitals to private facilities citing the Swasthya Sathi scheme.

In an advisory issued in early November, the health department had told each private hospital and nursing home to submit a copy of the no-objection certificate issued by the department to each government doctor working there.

The private healthcare facilities will also have to provide certain details about each such doctor so that the health department can keep track of doctors treating patients under Swasthya Sathi at private hospitals.

“Clinical establishment(s) can engage government doctors who are in practising post and not drawing non-practising allowance after fulfilling the conditions as stipulated in clause 6 of Chapter II of the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Rules, 2017,” the advisory, signed by Siddhartha Niyogi, director of state health services, had said.

The 2017 rules say: “No clinical establishment shall engage or empanel any person already engaged by the Government of West Bengal, or allow such person to render any healthcare service who is yet to obtain an express permission in the form of a ‘no-objection certificate’ from the government.”

Health officials said they noticed a rise in Swasthya Sathi claims but a drop in the number of surgeries and procedures at government hospitals.

During audits, many claims under Swasthya Sathi are found to be false or the bills inflated, said officials.

A senior doctor at a government-run medical college said the health department has to make consistent effort to detect such doctors.

“There are many teaching doctors at government medical colleges in Kolkata who do not come for duty every day and are, instead, engaged in private practice. This affects patients as well as students,” the doctor said.

Last updated on 07.01.23, 07:12 AM

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