Hyderabad: In 2017-18, the Union railway ministry spent Rs 3,522 crore on medical expenses of its employees.
This is the highest in four years, and a jump of 40 per cent from 2016.
This is because railway hospitals had to refer 31 per cent of their patients to private hospitals.
Last year, government hospitals referred 1,68,067 patients to private hospitals, the highest ever.
In Andhra Pradesh, the railways spent Rs 323.27 crore on their employees’ treatment while in Telangana state, the sum was Rs 62 crore. The increase in medical referrals is directly proportionate to the medical bills.
A railway employee, Mr Durga Prasad, who suffered a hip fracture, said, “Tests were conducted and the government doctors asked me to undergo an operation at the railway hospital. A day later I was shifted to a private hospital in Secunderabad. The same tests were conducted again. Is that not a waste of money?”
In another instance, a railway employee was admitted at the railway hospital at Lalaguda with a head injury. Since the neurology department was poorly equipped, the patient was referred to a private hospital where surgery was performed. The patient was later sent back to the railway hospital where he died. The family has demanded an answer from the hospital authorities. From the Lalaguda hospital in 2017-18, the highest number of patients were referred to Omega Hospital, followed by Apollo, Yashoda, Sunshine and KIMS.
Mr Robin Zaccheus, who filed a query under the Right to Information Act to seek information on railway bills, said, “Railway hospitals don’t carry out inspections at private hospitals to validate the treatment. Bills are directly submitted to the finance department without any medical review.” He said a few hospitals send doctors to periodically check the patient’s condition during the treatment as inspection.
The reply to the RTI query revealed that the railway ministry had spent `8,726.34 crore in the last four years on medical expenses. “Why not develop railway hospitals, why not create employment instead of referring people to private hospitals,” Mr Zaccheus asked....