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Wadia Hospitals, Mumbai corporation lock horns over financing

PT Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on January 13, 2020 Published on January 13, 2020

Hospital says BMC has to pay ₹137 crore in dues; patients turned away for want of funds

As Mumbai’s Wadia Hospitals and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) are locked in a financial impasse, as always, it’s the patients who are caught in the crossfire.

Over the weekend, the Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children (BJWHC) and Nawrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital (NWMH) said that they had to turn away patients for want of funds and that they were managing critical patients on resources being cobbled together. The hospital laid the blame at the BMC’s doorstep.

“MCGM (Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, or the BMC) has to pay outstanding dues of ₹31.44 crore to Nowrosjee Wadia Maternity Hospital and ₹105.85 crore to Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital for Children,” said a hospital spokesperson.

Dues paid: BMC

The BMC was quick to respond, with reports quoting an official as saying that they had indeed paid their dues till September 2019 and that the rest, too, would be paid. However, the official added that a portion would be deducted for non-compliance issues. Some of the allegations against the hospital involved expansions undertaken by it and ‘double’ salaries reportedly drawn by some doctors.

However, the hospital spokesperson said: “As per the trust deeds of the hospital, there are four members from MCGM on the board of management for BJWHC and two members each from the MCGM and GoM (Government of Maharashtra) on the board of management for NWMH and it is up to the MCGM who they want to appoint on the board.

“MCGM, through its representatives on the board of management of both the hospitals, is party to all the decisions of the hospitals as per the provisions of the trust deed.”

The issue is presently in the Bombay High Court, the spokesperson said, not wanting to comment further.

‘Good hospital destroyed’

It is the case of another “good hospital, destroyed”, said Ravi Duggal, an independent health researcher who has observed the evolution of such hospitals and their funding over the years.

Wadia Hospitals had been set up as part of a charity, to cater to the Wadia Group’s textile workers who stayed close by. Over the years, the nature of the agreement to run the hospital changed and, in 2010, it entered into a contract with the BMC and the State government. Reports suggest that a lion’s share of the hospital’s bill is being footed by the State authorities.

Private-public partnerships

The incident comes against the backdrop of high-level healthcare discussions pushing for public-private partnerships for hospitals. “But this is not a private hospital. It is a public one with charitable support,” pointed out Duggal, adding that if anything the government should take control and run it as a public hospital.

As political voices join in to protest the deadlock and save the hospital from a shutdown, at stake will be hospitals with over 800 beds and a massive infrastructure located in the heart of Mumbai and, most importantly, the lives of many young children and women.

Published on January 13, 2020
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