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Gujarat: AMC Hikes Downsized VS Hospital Budget by 20 Percent for Modernization

The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has increased the budget allocation for the now downsized VS Hospital by nearly Rs 50 crore, roughly 20 percent, from last year. The additional fund allotment has been earmarked for infusing fresh capital in the hospital, said AMC officials. In its budget for 2019-20, the AMC has allotted Rs 231 crore for the 500-bed Sheth Vadilal Sarabhai General Hospital and Sheth Chinai Prasuti Gruh, popularly known as VS Hospital. In the last financial year, the hospital, which then had 1155 beds, was allotted Rs 185 crore that included Rs 60 crore for non-establishment expenditure and Rs 120 crore for establishment charge that included employees’ salaries and pension fund contribution. On Tuesday, the revised budget was tabled by the V S Hospital board, chaired by Mayor Bijal Patel. The revised budget will be finally approved by the AMC’s General Board. Notably, the decision to increase the funds allotment to the 88-year-old hospital comes in the wake of the controversy surrounding the BJP-run AMC’s decision to transfer 655 beds of the hospital to the newly inaugurated Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, which is run by the AMC-Medical Education Trust.

Initially, in the draft budget, presented by then AMC superintendent Dr Sandeep T Malhan on January 10, Rs 172 crore was set aside for VS Hospital that included establishment cost, non-establishment cost and capital cost. However, Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra on January 22 allocated “an additional capital investment of Rs 60 crore for the hospital over and above the recurring cost”. This after protests were held in the city against the earlier proposed plan of the AMC to demolish “the dilapidated parts of the VS Hospital”. Of the additional Rs 60 crore, Rs 11 crore has been allotted for modernization of the facility, that includes digitization of records, installation of upgraded machines and setting up of a laboratory integrated system. “We intend to modernize VS Hospital. We have planned to digitize records, introduce picture archiving and communication system (PACS) along with medical grade monitoring. We have also proposed a laboratory-integrated system and new upgraded echo machine,” Deputy Commissioner Dr Kuldeep Arya said.

The AMC has allocated a quarter of VSH’s total budget (25 percent), that is Rs 58 crore, for non-establishment expenditure. Under it, money for “repair and maintenance of the infrastructure” has been increased by Rs 11 lakh as compared to the draft budget. Other components under non-establishment expenditure also saw increased allocation by Rs 22 crore, as compared to the draft budget. While the civic body plans to contribute Rs 224 crore, the state government grant will pitch in Rs 2 crore, said AMC officials. The remaining Rs 5 crore will be met from VS Hospital’s income. “VS Hospital has been understaffed vis-a-vis until now. Thus, we won’t see a decrease in staff despite a decrease in number of beds. Moreover, a lot of components of the budget can’t be restricted or seen only vis-a-vis the number of beds. This budget is merely an estimate that projects the planning that has been visualized for the hospital. The final usage can only be seen on the revised budget,” Arya added. Meanwhile, the trustees on the board of management of VS Hospital called the budget allotment “fake”, saying it “once again points to a huge flow of unaccounted funds passing through the hospital’s board of management without scrutiny or accountability”. – Indian Express

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