Speaking to NDTV, Health Minister Satyender Jain admitted that "there are many gaps in our health system."
Babloo, who belongs to Gaya in Bihar, had surgery three years ago at Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences or AIIMS for a brain tumour. Doctors said after the operation that the 38-year-old was tumour-free. But some days ago, the growth on his forehead appeared and he began having frequent fits and then lost control of both his legs. He is now bed-ridden.
Doctors at AIIMS told his wife Madhulika that he needed a Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI scan for them to assess his condition. They also informed her that MRIs at AIIMS were booked for the next seven months.
Government hospitals are the only option Madhulika had; she cannot afford over Rs 12,000 that an MRI in a private lab costs. The couple sold their land for Babloo's treatment and now live, along with their three children, on their meagre savings.
For two weeks, the young woman begged hospitals in the capital to do an MRI scan on her husband, to no avail. On Friday, July 18, NDTV decided to visit Delhi's government hospitals with Madhulika to record on hidden camera the shocking apathy she met. This is what happened at each hospital:
9:30 am, Ram Manohar Lohia or RML super speciality hospital in Central Delhi:
Medical documents in hand we approach the doctor on shift in the Out Patient Department. He does not see us and we are directed to another department. The doctor needs to be persuaded to come out and examine the patient.
Doctor: Take him to AIIMS, we can't do anything in this case
NDTV: But an MRI?
Doctor: RML can't do anything.
He walks away saying he has other patients to look after.
11:40 am, LNJP (Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital) in central Delhi:
NDTV: We got him operated at AIIMS first and all our funds are finished. Please see if an MRI can be done.
Doctor: Can't do an MRI like this. You will need a date for an MRI. There is three months waiting here. Talk to the CMO (Chief Medical Officer).
CMO: Why have you come here?
NDTV: He needs an MRI. We have sold land for his treatment. His fits have increased. Please help.
CMO: MRI can't be done here at Emergency. Only if a consultant at the OPD prescribes an MRI, can we get it done.
NDTV: What do we do ma'am?
CMO: We can't do an MRI in the Emergency.
12:20 pm, GB Pant (Govind Ballabh Pant) Hospital in Central Delhi
NDTV: We are in a lot of trouble.
Doctor: We cannot do anything.
NDTV: AIIMS has a waiting of six to seven months, please help.
Doctor: What do I do then?
NDTV: Just need an MRI sir.
Doctor: Can't do an MRI this way. We need an emergency number. You just have the papers.
NDTV: No, the patient is in the ambulance outside.
Doctor: I am telling you this can't be done. Patient is of neurology, and I am from urology. It's not my department so I cannot admit your patient.
1:30 pm, at GTB Hospital (Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital) in East Delhi
At this hospital, the doctor made some alarming revelations.
Doctor: This is a crappy hospital, why have you come here? If you care for the patient take him somewhere else.
Doctor: Take him somewhere else. We fit three to four patients in one bed. We do not have a bed or treatment for your patient.
2:45 pm, Safdarjung Hospital, in South Delhi
This big facility was our last hope.
Doctor: Let me tell you neither CT scan nor MRI can be done here.
NDTV: There is a long waiting in other hospitals.
Doctor: Get it done from a private lab.
NDTV: Sir, it costs 15000 in a private lab. We don't have the money. I have sold off all my land for the treatment. There is nothing left now.
Doctor: Listen to me, we cannot do anything in this case.
NDTV: Can you help?
Doctor: You ask for CT scan or MRI. That cannot be done.
Madhulika Gupta says her husband weeps and tells her often, "Kill me, what's the use of living this way?" Babloo's nephew Anurag Gupta says doctors at many hospitals have refused to treat him. "Doctors just see his reports and refuse. No doctor wants to take up such a serious patient," he alleges.
This reporter met other people in urgent need of medical attention, who said they had been turned away at these hospitals.
"It is a curse to be poor. Unless you have money or influence a government hospital will just not treat you," a patient awaiting treatment outside Safdarjung hospital told NDTV.
The law says a government hospital cannot refuse treatment to any patient.
"If the hospitals have denied a patient, there will definitely be an investigation. The doctors are also demotivated. They need to be also trained for soft skills," Health Minister Jain told NDTV yesterday.
For Babloo, NDTV got in touch with Uday Foundation and the MRI was done. But there are many others out there being refused treatment by public-funded hospitals right now.
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