The height of irregularities in 108 ambulance service in Odisha came to fore when an OTV investigation laid bare the murkier dealings in the services touted as the ‘lifeline’ of the healthcare system.
The irony is ambulances in the State are 'minting money even without ferrying the patients' when patients run from pillar to post to get an ambulance during an emergency. The State is replete with such instances during the pandemic.
Sample the Following
1. On July 2, during the evening hours of 6:30 PM and 9:30 PM, the OTV investigation team tracked an ambulance bearing the number OD05AT3955 of Jagatsinghpur CHC that was parked outside Cuttack's Sishu Bhawan sans any patient.
However, the GPS of the ambulance was showing 'hospital in', which means the vehicle has dropped the patient in the hospital.
On being asked about the same, the ambulance driver brazenly said that he would not respond and dared the reporters to contact and ask the concerned officials.
2. Another ambulance of Balipatna CHC bearing the number OD02BG0189 was also found parked at a distance from the hospital in Cuttack, while its GPS was also showing 'hospital in'.
To the investigation team’s dismay, as many as four such ambulances were found during the three-hour investigation carried out by the OTV team.
Modus Operandi Behind The 'Fake Trips'
Here the moot question is why ambulances in the State are making such fake trips. It is learnt that the more running time an ambulance shows, the more money it will make. Besides, it also gets its share in the money for maintenance purposes.
"By such fake trips, targets are being achieved by the staff and they also make money in the name of maintenance of vehicles. Along with the concerned company, which is managing the ambulance service, some government officials are also involved in the loot. And that's the reason, why the same company is always wining the tender,” claimed Satyabrata Das, a former ambulance staff.
The Ziqitza Health Care Limited, which is providing the ambulance service in the State, refused to speak on the matter.
However, the State Health Minister Naba Das asserted that once a written complaint is filed, the government will definitely institute a probe.
"We will not tolerate any type of irregularities and corruption. If this (the allegation) is true, it's a serious issue. If I get a written complaint, I will order a departmental inquiry and take action as per the law of the land," said Das.