New Delhi: Indian parliamentarians and their families are covered under government-subsidised healthcare – they can go to a number of hospitals, including top private hospitals, at subsidised rates under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS). Other government servants like bureaucrats and police officers and their families also enjoy the CGHS.
But despite this, a number of senior government doctors from top hospitals in Delhi like AIIMS have been taken off their rosters of regular duties at the out-patient department, and made to sit in parliament so that elected MPs can come and get free health check-ups. The parliament complex already has a clinic for MPs and the specialist doctors are sitting in there.
The issue was flagged on social media by a doctor at AIIMS, Vijay Gurjar, who said that this was a wasteful example of “VIP culture”. He said doctors should oppose these kind of duties, but that could potentially insult parliamentarians.
As of Thursday, 295 MPs have already made use of the clinic, according to health ministry sources. The camp was inaugurated on November 20 and goes on till December 4.
Speaker Om Birla and health minister Harsh Vardhan inaugurated this ‘health awareness and check up camp’.
The government press release says that the camp intends to provide health awareness and diagnostic services to parliamentarians as well as their families. The camp runs for a full two weeks.
Specialist doctors have been roped in from AIIMS, Safdarjung, Ram Manohar Lohia, Lady Hardinge and Sucheta Kriplani hospitals to provide “specialist health services”. The health ministry has said that diagnostic facilities for radiology and biochemistry will also be available at the camp. MPs also have access to doctors on Ayurveda, homeopathy, unani, siddha, naturopathy and yoga.
One BJP MP, who is also a medical doctor, said that other MPs have told him that the camp is useful and “it is important to always sensitise people on healthcare”. He said that the camp is not new and happens regularly, but that this time has been a longer and more elaborate camp.
“One person got a check up from an acupuncturist at the clinic and got a very good diagnosis for his disc prolapse. They said it was also confirmed later by an X-ray and by the orthopaedic,” says this MP.
Another ex-MP from the Congress, also a medical doctor, said that this was a wasteful exercise. “There’s already a CGHS clinic in the parliament. Why can’t MPs go and get a check-up there? Why do senior doctors have to be called in? Anyway the patient needs an initial examination and only then needs to be referred to a senior doctor. Senior doctors and specialists themselves don’t need to be sitting in parliament to do check-ups.”