The hospital at BHU is the biggest ray of hope for millions of people from Purvanchal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Nepal and many other places in India. Patients from all of these places come to BHU to get medical treatment because it is the biggest hospital of this region but the management, staffs and doctors are so corrupt and cruel that they have become demons, no humanity at all. The people from Varanasi themselves have the feeling that BHU hospital has the best doctors and other medical facilities but if you do not know people personally there then don’t go. If you know people then things are easy otherwise its a serious challenge to get anything done at that hospital.
Everything is super difficult starting from registration till getting treatment, buying medicines or even getting subsidy which is the right of the patients. Lets start from the beginning, the first process is getting registration which mean you will have to be in a queue as there is no process of doing it online and the queue is so big that you might have to spend an hour or two just standing in the line. Second step is seeing the doctor which means again huge queue and corrupt system. If you know someone at the OPD then doesn’t matter how late you show up or even if you have registration or not, you will go and see the doctor directly but the people who showed up early, were in the queue waiting for their turn will have to wait.
At BHU OPD usually there is one senior doctor and may be 5-6 junior ones. Junior doctors are the ones who see the patients first and if they feel like needing help of the senior doctor only then they discuss the case with the senior one but again if you know somebody then senior doctor will see you first which really hurt others. If the doctor suggests some kind of blood test or CTscan or MRI then again problem. All the facilities are available at the hospital for cheap cost but the queue is so big that in case of an emergency it is impossible to wait for your turn. The appointment for CTscan or MRI could be even a week or two. In this case most of the people pay a higher price and get the test done at some private center where the doctors get commission.
If there is any emergency and the patient has to be admitted in the hospital then they don’t have beds available. Actually they always have beds available but only if you know someone working at BHU. It has happened with so many people whom I know personally that they were denied the admission first but when they approached someone powerful then immediately the patient was admitted otherwise the patient has to lay down on the ground in unhygienic condition while the treatment is going on. Forget about getting a room, it is a serious challenge to even find a stretcher. You will always see patient’s attendants running around here and there looking for a vacant stretcher. And when the patient is admitted then the real drama of commission business starts and I know it very well that it all happens with involvement of BHU staffs.
Actually different people who have medicine business outside BHU premises start approaching the attendants of the patients asking them to come to there shop and buy medicines from them. In exchange of it they promise discount which is nothing other than a scam because hospital pharmacy is a lot cheaper than any discounted rate offered by these outside shops. There is already a pharmacy inside the hospital premises where they provide subsidized medicines. In a lot of cases doctors themselves ask the patients to buy the medicine from some shop outside the hospital because they get huge commission. My personal most recent experience of such case was only about an year ago when a lady in my neighborhood went to the BHU to get treatment for her breast cancer.
Doctors did biopsy and confirmed that she had 3rd stage of breast cancer and she needed urgent treatment. They recommended her chemotherapy first because her tumor was very big. The doctor herself asked the patient to go to a particular shop outside the BHU campus and bring the medicines from there only. But there was already an AMRIT store at the hospital which is a program started by Modi government in the year 2015 which sells cancer and heart related diseases medicine and implants for 50 to 90% cheaper than the market rate. Statistics indicate that Indians diagnosed with cancer are 700,000 every year. About 2.8 million people have cancer at any point of time and half a million die of the disease each year. The annual figure of women being diagnosed with breast cancer in India is 145,000, according to the World Health Organisation.
A significant number of patients (nearly over 50 per cent) stop visiting hospitals after two or three cycles of chemotherapy due to unaffordable costs. Hence, the aim to reduce the expenditure incurred by patients on treatment of cancer and heart diseases, has launched the Affordable Medicines and Reliable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) program. The patient went to the shop recommended by the doctor and asked the cost of the medicine. The shop owner said it would cost them around Rs. 17-18,000 which sounded very expensive because I used to pay around 5000 at TATA memorial hospital, Mumbai for my mother’s breast cancer treatment so I suggested the patient to inquire about the cost at AMRIT store inside the hospital.
The patient went there and was shocked to see that the same medicine’s cost at AMRIT store was around Rs. 4000. The patient came from a very poor family back ground and I was helping them to get some financial aid from the government but it takes some time and he she needed urgent help. So she decided to go for the treatment with whatever savings she had. They bought the medicines from AMRIT store but before starting the therapy they went to the doctor again to show her all the medicines because they could not believe that there would be so big difference of cost between the shop outside and AMRIT store at the hospital. The doctor looked at the medicines and said that everything was all right but suddenly asked for the receipt of the medicine.
They showed the receipt to the doctor and as soon as she saw the receipt of AMRIT she got super angry and started shouting at the patient. She was upset about why did they buy the medicine from AMRIT store when she had asked them to buy it from somewhere else. They explained the reason that it was almost 4 times cheaper at the AMRIT and they come from a very poor background that it was impossible for them to even spend that Rs. 4000 at AMRIT store, forget about paying 17,000 at some other store. But in any case why would I pay 17,000 for the same thing which costs me 4000?. But that cruel inhuman doctor did not want to hear anything. She threw the medicines away and told the patient that if she can not bring the medicine from that particular shop, where she wanted them to buy it from, then she can go anywhere she wants or start the treatment by themselves.
They were crying and requesting the doctor to start the treatment as they could not afford the medicine from outside but no result. It was not only my patient but several others also had the same problem. They were all complaining about the same thing. Now we had no idea about what to do because she needed urgent treatment. There was another cancer hospital in Varanasi run by Indian Railways where we did not really want to go at first because BHU had better facilities but there was no other way. Finally we decided to go to the Railway hospital, explained them all of the problems and the doctors there were so nice that they accepted the patient. They also agreed to use the medicines brought from AMRIT store but they were also shocked to hear the story.
Somehow her treatment started at the Railway hospital. Every time she needed a chemo we would buy it from AMRIT store at BHU but get the therapy at the Railway hospital. But sometimes you are too unlucky or maybe unlucky for a while with better future waiting for you. Only after three Chemos the Railway hospital was closed temporarily because TATA Memorial center from Mumbai had taken over it and they needed sometime to develop the hospital infrastructure and other facilities as per their own standards. TATA hospitals are very good, they have proper hospital management system, good doctors and subsidized medicines. On one hand we were sad that my patient’s treatment was going to be stopped but on the other hand it was also a happy news that future would be better.
All of the cases of Railway hospital were transferred to BHU and since it was done on the government level we did not face the same problem again. Rest of the Chemos were done at BHU and they also accepted medicines bought from AMRIT store. Now just imagine the cruelty of that doctor who had refused to treat my patient only because she could not afford to buy the medicines from the shop preferred by the doctor. And the reason why they send the patients to certain shops only because they get commission. Patients life, suffering, pain…. nothing matters to them. The only thing that matters to them is money. Being a local of Varanasi at least I could even think of other options but just think about the situation of those poor people who come from far away places……Just impossible to even imagine their situation.
Anyways, the reason why I am writing this post is because the media reported today about a similar case that happened at BHU. The report said that a patient from Aurangabad, Bihar who needed cardiac surgery was admitted at BHU in May 2017. Since they came from a very poor family they had applied for government help and the government had already sanctioned Rs. 1,75,000 for their treatment. Usually this kind of money is directly transferred to the hospital or the patient can get treatment, present the bills issued by authorized government pharmacy center and get the refund. The patient showed the documents stating that the government had approved 1,75,000 for the patient but again the doctor denied the treatment. He started making all the fake stories and asked the patient’s family to deposit Rs. 2,50,000 at a particular shop outside the hospital.
The patient’s family did not have that much of money so they mortgaged their agricultural land and somehow arranged money and gave it to the shop owner. The operation cost at BHU is almost nothing, I don’t know the present rate but I still remember that I had deposited only Rs. 500 for my cousin’s heart valve surgery around 10 years ago. All the major expenses are medicine cost. Finally the surgery happened and the patient was discharged from the hospital. They went to that medicine shop asking for the receipt of the medicines so that they could get a refund from the government but they gave them receipt of only Rs. 1,80,000 whereas they had given Rs 2,50,000. The family lodged a complaint against it to the Medical Superintendent of the hospital.
The MS called the shop owner and asked him to return rest of the 70,000 which he agreed but later denied but never returned that 70,000. Now another problem is that the patient’s family can get refund only if they can present the receipt issued by AMRIT stores because all the medicines at AMRIT stores are already highly subsidized but the doctor had sent the patients somewhere else and it was again done only because the doctor must have been getting commission by sending patients to that particular pharmacy. When I hear such stories, I don’t know what to say, the only thing I can say is that such people are monsters in human face. Just imagine the situation of that patient’s family.
They had to go to the government because they did not have money, they had to mortgage their land and now they can’t even get the refund from the government only because that evil doctor’s greed, their whole life is destroyed. And I know it very well but it is not the only case, it happens everyday with several people but we only hear about a very few stories. I am not saying that all of the doctors are bad at BHU or it is happening only at BHU but its a fact which can’t be ignored. Its happening everywhere in India, everyday with so many people. I hope that with more and more transparency and online system this problem will solve in future but it seems like it is not going to be solved some time soon, we will have to suffer with this system in future as well but wish to see it completely changed before I die. I would like to thank to Mr. Modi for starting such project, I know how hard it is for him to solve this problem of corruption but I have a hope. At least he started something and we all know he is doing his best to fight corruption, Thanks for being what he is! Peace.