Thursday, December 27, 2007

Corruption complaint against a government hospital

This post started off as a reply to the comment posted by Suneel for my post (can be seen here). But then the comment was getting bigger and bigger and hence I decided to have it as a separate post.

The comment was about the cause of the problem. I think the public is also part of the problem. But I really wonder what makes systems work, what makes systems fail. Take public transport of Chennai for example. From a user point of view there is no corruption. Suppose for the next bus stop the fare is 5 Rupees (which is the case in deluxe buses), the conductors can collect just 3 rupees, not issue any ticket, in which case he can pocket all the 3 rupees. Which will be much less than the incentive on a Rs 5 ticket, he would have got if he had been honest. The passenger will be happy since he will be paying 2 rupees less. But I dont see this happening. The conductors always give the tickets. I am explaining this just to see why this system is working without corruption. If suddenly some checking inspectors come, why cant they also be bribed. This is not happening. By the way, when I travel in private buses in villages, there are many times, the conductor is ready to take just 5 rupees instead of the actual 7 rupees fare, if I am ok with not getting a ticket. Looking at these private buses there are various possibilities as to why there is no corruption in MTC buses.
1. There is something in the ticket system of MTC, that makes it work without corruption.
2. It is just the culture that has been built over the years.
3. It might be again because the public would never accept not having a ticket, in which case again the buck stops with us, when it comes to corruption at other places.
4. It can also be that devising a corruption proof system is easier for ticket collection in buses but mot so easy in other places.
5. It could also be that whether a system is corrupt or not corrupt depends on th people at the top (Here I am talking not just about their intention but also their ability)

When it comes to these hospitals, I somehow feel change can come in, if there is the will in the highest authority. Probably nobody wants to ruffle a few feathers. Here again the public also need to be blamed. Once they are out of the hospital, they should write complaints to DVAC, or call them up. Their numbers are displayed everywhere in the hospital saying bribes should not be given and that if any staff member asks for money, the can complain to this number. But in a hospital it will be dangerous if you complain while the patient is still in the hospital, since they might do the patient harm. What I suggest is that they keep a note of all the bribes they pay, date and time wise. Once they are completely out of the hospital they can launch a complaint.

Which is what i did with "Kasturba Gandhi Hospital For Women & Children" at Triplicane in Chennai. Bharathi is our office accountant. Her friend was admitted there for delivery. And my friend was helping her with getting admitted and other formalities. After delivery the baby had jaundice and hence there were problems. So my colleague eventually moved her and the baby to a private hospital. But during those three days she had to pay close to a couple of thousands as bribes to various people in the hospital. Hence she talked to me, and we together drafted the complaint and filed it. The complaint can be seen here. We are waiting for a reply.

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