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Vendors stop supplies to Nair Hospital over pending bills; surgeries hit

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)-run BYL Nair hospital’s dean ordered associate deans and assistant medical officers (AMO) of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery (CVTS) not to perform surgeries in the hospital and refer such cases to other civic hospitals, on March 21. The missive was sent as the hospital has a backlog of pending bills which has prompted vendors to stop supplying materials for various surgeries conducted under government schemes.

The dean Dr Sudhir Medhekar has claimed while the bills have been cleared by him, it is awaiting signatures from higher ups.

The hospital has had a history of delays in clearing vendors’ bills, which has affected functioning of CVTS, ophthalmology, cardiology and orthopaedic departments since December 2023. The issue was first flagged to the dean by a doctor in December in a letter which underlined vendors’ reluctance to supply surgery-related materials despite an assurance about payment of bills under Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana (MJPJAY).

A doctor from the hospital said, “We have been following up on the supply of materials since December last year.” He added there are payment-related issues with other vendors supplying laundry and food as well. “For many days in a month, patients are forced to have only milk and bread instead of a full meal only because the hospital has failed to settle bills of rice and grain suppliers,” he said.

The hospital has been unable to perform MRI and CT scans since December as well. “Doctors of various departments have individually as well as collectively communicated to the dean, but problems persist even after three months,” he added.

On December 18, AMOs sent their first letter to the dean listing 23 points that included administrative lapses in patient services and management of duties. In another letter dated January 23, doctors from the cardiology department said, “The department is in dire need of various consumables for performing therapeutic and diagnostic cardiac procedures in cath labs.” The demands of surgical supplies are yet to be fulfilled.

More recently, a day after the dean’s letter, on March 22 a letter by doctors of orthopaedic department stated: “Vendors who were supplying orthopaedic implant under MJPJAY and other schemes have refused to provide orthopaedic implants as their payments of previous bills under the scheme have not been cleared by the administration. Due to non-availability of the implants, the orthopedic operation theatre (OT) is unable to run, and only non-implants surgeries are possible.”

Ramakant Jadhav, a 56-year-old patient, who is undergoing treatment in the cardiology department, said, “I first approached this hospital on March 1. After many tests, I was advised angioplasty on March 15, but I was referred to KEM hospital for further treatment as they don’t have materials for the surgery under MJPJAY.”

Dr Medhekar, said the issues are limited to only one or two departments. “To tide over the current situation, we have made provisions for poor and needy patients through our Poor Patients’ Fund,” said Medhekar. “There have been delays in payments to specific vendors who supply to a few departments. To ensure that patients don’t suffer, they have been referred to other BMC and government hospitals.”

When Dr Sudhakar Shinde, additional commissioner (health), BMC, was made aware of the situation, he said he will resolve it in a week. “There have been a few cases of discrepancies in bills. I will hold a meeting this week and get to the bottom of it,” he said. Hindustan Times

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