The director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, has withdrawn his letter which listed the special arrangements for MPs and those recommended by them in the country’s first government hospital. Doctors’ associations and campaigners had criticized the ‘VIP culture’, while the institute said it was just SOPs or standard operating procedures for MPs.
In an apparent attempt to counter the ‘VIP’ accusation, AIIMS had also tweeted that it had ‘always had a 24×7 control room for the coordination of medical care for patients from all walks of life’, adding that staff is deployed to “accelerate the treatment of the poorest of the poor”.
Large crowds and long queues are routine at the overcrowded AIIMS, where it sometimes takes hours to get the consultation card done for OPD. Urgency, too, is often pushed to its limits.
‘We condemn VIP culture’: Doctors oppose AIIMS SOPs over treatment of MPs https://t.co/YoO9NhTcgZpic.twitter.com/v8x8KMBRxX
– NDTV (@ndtv) October 21, 2022
The since-withdrawn letter – from the director of AIIMS to the co-secretary of Lok Sabha – spoke of the streamlining of outpatient service (OPD), emergency consultations and inpatient services specifically for MPs.
One of his 11 points was that “all other patients” referred to AIIMS by MPs “will receive appropriate assistance from the Media and Protocol Division”.
In case the MP needs an OPD consultation, his staff need only share the details with the AIIMS Duty Officer, Dr M Srinivas’ letter to YM Kandpal said. The officer on duty will then speak to the doctor and schedule the appointment, he said. “If necessary, we can also speak to the head of center or the head of the relevant department,” he added.
A similar special duty officer call service is available for emergencies, the letter says.
It had prompted an angry reaction from the Federation of Medical Resident Associations or FORDA. “The only VIP culture we know of is this: the more critical a patient is, the more VIP he or she is to us. This prescription should be withdrawn,” said Dr Sarvesh Pandey, Secretary General of FORDA, who works in another government. Delhi Hospital.