Bombay High Court Raps Maha Govt For Letting Budgetary Allocation For Drugs, Medical Equipment Lapse

Bombay High Court Raps Maha Govt For Letting Budgetary Allocation For Drugs, Medical Equipment Lapse

The HC has taken suo motu (on its own) cognisance of patients deaths at two state-run hospitals in Nanded and Sambhajinagar

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, December 08, 2023, 06:42 PM IST
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Bombay High Court | File

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government got an earful from the Bombay High Court on Friday for failing to utilise the budgetary allocation for procurement of drugs and medical equipment and causing it to lapse thereby making the healthcare system suffer. 

“It (budgetary allocation) is lying unspent. Who is the ultimate sufferer?” asked a division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor. 

The bench also questioned the government on steps being taken to spend on budgetary allocation, reasons for not releasing the entire sanctioned amount and the reasons for not utilising the entire released amount.

The HC has taken suo motu (on its own) cognisance of patients deaths at two state-run hospitals in Nanded and Sambhajinagar. A batch of petitions too were filed raising concerns over the high number of deaths.

Govt initiates process of issuing tenders to procure drugs, equipment

Advocate General Birendra Saraf informed the court that the government has appointed a chief executive officer for the Maharashtra Medicines Procurement Authority (MMPA), and has initiated the process of issuing tenders to procure drugs and equipment.

The bench said it “hopes and trusts” that the process of procuring these items “picks up pace”. 

The CJ remarked that although a budget was allocated, the entire amount was not released  by the government, and also the amount that was released was not fully utilised. 

“What we notice is that the budget allocated and sanctioned is not released entirely, and whatever amount is released is not spent. What is the reason behind this”? CJ asked. 

He added: “This seems to be a new trend in the government. But who is the ultimate sufferer? We hope and trust that steps would be taken to spend the budget in its entirety otherwise it lapses at the cost of the healthcare system.” 

Court asks govt to file affidavit with detailed plan

The court has asked the state government to file an affidavit providing details of how it proposes to meet the demands of drugs and equipment raised by hospitals in the state. 

In addition, the court has also asked the government to expedite the process of filling up vacant posts at the hospitals in the state. 

Saraf submitted that of the 4,341 vacancies for the post of nurse, 3,974 will be filled by the end of December. He said that these vacancies keep recurring. “Large part of it (recruitment) will be done. By December end nursing staff will be improved in all hospitals,” Saraf said. 

After going through the chart submitted by Saraf, the CJ remarked that nearly one-third of the posts, including staff, were lying vacant. 

“Roughly calculated, one-third posts are vacant in hospitals in the state. These posts include the posts of nursing staff as also various medical staff. Any vacancy against this post is bound to hamper the healthcare facility. Thus needless to say there is an urgent need to fill up all such vacancies,” the bench noted in its order. 

Saraf assured the court that after the issue was flagged by the high court, the government is taking all the necessary efforts to address the concern. 

The HC has kept the matter for further hearing on February 1.

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