It was barely hours before Bhagwant Mann was scheduled to visit Gurdaspur, when the authorities of the Civil Hospital found themselves in a bind. They faced a dilemma over who would pay for the fuel of the ambulance that would transport a team of doctors to attend the VIP visit because of an unforeseen financial crunch.
SMOs have the authority to sanction funds. The SMO, however, had difficulty arranging finances this time. An order issued by the government recently restrained him.
As soon as the driver announced that the ambulance had “just enough diesel for the VIP visit”, everybody breathed a sigh of relief. Whatever the case, the possibility of the vehicle not being refueled for lack of funds existed.
The critical situation arose on January 4 after Punjab Health System Corporation (PHSC) asked all district and subdivisional hospitals and Community Health Centres (CHCs) to deposit 50 percent of the user charges collected until December 31, 2022, in the government treasury by January 5.
As a result, neither financial powers nor guidelines on how to spend the remaining 50% have been delegated.
The hospital has also been ordered to deposit 100 percent of the user charges collected every month into the Treasury by the last working day of the month starting on January 1. For each hospital, this amount reaches lakhs of rupees.
Hospitals rely on these charges to cover their daily and short-term expenses. Almost 90 percent of the hospitals in the state are on life support as a result of this development.
Senior hospital officials asked, “How will we pay for emergency drugs, X-ray films, lift repairs, and other hospital equipment? ”