Wait for your turn or let touts earn

Pregnant women suffer as middlemen rule gynaecology ward at EDMC hospital

For many months, Sanjay Pranchal, a mason based in east Delhi, used to curse the ‘snail-paced’ functioning of the gynaecology ward of Swami Dayanand Hospital.

His wife is six-month pregnant and they have been visiting the East Delhi Municipal Corporation-run hospital twice every month at 8 am sharp. Despite their early arrival, they almost never made through the process of medical checkup before 12 noon, sometimes even having to wait till 2 pm.

When Pranchal recently recognised the actual people behind the long delays, he could only curse his financial condition. “Each time we visit the hospital, my work suffers and I lose Rs 400 on that day. From where can I pay them an extra Rs 100 to Rs 200 to fast forward my wife in the queue,” he said.

 The “them” include helpers at the hospital, cleaners, aayahs, snack sellers as well a few people who have no formal association with the hospital.

The gynaecology department of the hospital receives anywhere between 300 to 400 women with pregnancy every day. Those with money, can reach the hospital as late as 1 pm and get done with the medical checkups and consultation with the doctors in half an hour and much before those who go the normal way — in long queues.

All they have to do is shell out a minimum Rs 100 note for one single visit. Some of these touts even adopt the technique to scare-and-persuade to prevent the patients from changing their mind once they have approached.

“Will you be happy if your wife dies of complications due to a delay?” a woman tried to scare this reporter to paying up when he faked that his wife was pregnant and needed to go ahead in the queue.

The reporter paid Rs 100 and was immediately handed a uristix that would enable the pregnant woman to jump the queue outside the pregnancy room. A uristix is a strip used for urine analysis to test for glucose and protein in pregnant women.

A similar amount would have to be paid if the patient wants to skip the queue even in the gynaecology ward. When approached, a helper inside the pregnancy room was summoned out by a tout to help the scribe speed up the process.

“You have two options. You can either reach the hospital by 8 am and, go through the procedures and get work done by 1-2 pm or approach some staff member, put Rs 100 to Rs 200 in his pocket and get things done in half an hour,” said the helper, who identified himself as Rakesh Kumar.

In fact, five cleaners at the hospital were approached, and each of them expressed the ability to either speed up the process — of course in lieu of money — or pointed out to others who could “help”.

Sources at the hospital, however, said the doctors in the department neither have a hand in this whole affair, nor do they benefit monetarily. “These work happen at the entry level and outside the medical rooms. Doctors do not know which patients, they are treating, have actually jumped the queues,” said the source.

When Dr R N Bansal, medical superintendent, was brought into the loop of loopholes, he immediately dispatched a staffer to recognise and book the culprits.

“Such a case was brought to my notice a few months ago too. I myself went in search of the culprits, but they had fled by then. We will take strict actions against such people,” assured Dr Bansal.

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