The director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, has withdrawn his letter that listed new standard operating procedure (SOP) in place to streamline treatment of Members of Parliament, and those referred by them.
While most doctors said that the new rules will disrupt hospital functioning by promoting 'VIP culture', others pointed that it was simply a formalisation of already existing protocols.
FIT speaks to Dr Manish Jangra, Chief Advisor FAIMA, and Dr Vinay Kumar, Senior Resident, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, AIIMS Delhi, to help break down what the SOP says, and why doctors opposed it.
Breaking Down the New SOPs
The new SOP was detailed in a letter sent by AIIMS Director Dr M Srinivas to Lok Sabha Joint Secretary YM Kandpal, on 17 October.
Some of the SOPs detailed in the letter were:
Duty officers posted in the control room round the clock will be a single point of contact to arrange all medical care for sitting MPs.
Personal staff members of the MPs may contact the duty officer that are posted in the control room to give details of the ailment, requirement, and make appointments for them.
If required the duty officer can also speak to the Chief or Head of the concerned department on their behalf.
At the scheduled time of the appointment, the MP is to reach the office of the duty officer. From here they will be escorted to the concerned specialist, after the doctor's availability is confirmed.
All patients who are referred by an MP for treatment or consultation at AIIMS will be provided assistance by the Media & Protocol division.
Speaking to FIT, Dr Vinay Kumar, Senior Resident, AIIMS says, "the 24/7 duty officer is not a new position created for them."
"The duty officer is part of the hospital administration and coordinates appointments to streamline patient flow. If anything, it (the new SOP) makes life easier for the administration and the doctors."Dr Vinay Kumar, SR Resident, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, AIIMS Delhi
Why Is It Being Opposed?
On Thursday, FAIMA wrote to the Union Health Minister, Mansukh Mandaviya saying the new SOP goes against the ethos of AIIMS and promotes 'VIP culture'.
In a video statement, Dr Rohan Krishnan, National President of FAIMA said, "this letter is condemnable, and laughable. Reading the letter, it seems like AIIMS Delhi is meant to only take care of VIPs and not regular citizens."
Speaking to FIT, Chief Advisor FAIMA, Dr Manish Jangra, says: "On one side our PM Modi says that there is no VIP culture in India and that everyone is equal. But on the other side, the AIIMS direct says that there should be a VIP treatment for members of parliament."
"It is very difficult to get OPD registration or get dates for Operations, MRIs. Sometimes they get dates after one year in AIIMS, but right now they are giving this authority to the MPs that they can refer patients directly on their behalf, which can be misused."Dr Manish Jangra, Chief Advisor FAIMA
Dr Vinay Kumar says that VIP culture is "nothing new", and that the new SOP is not meant to promote it, rather reorganise the way things are done.
"Earlier, MPs would land up directly at the OPD or emergency room. They would come with an entourage of guards, assistants, which create chaos and trouble for the staff. The new order is meant to streamline this issue."Dr Vinay Kumar, SR Resident, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, AIIMS Delhi
"Instead of directly turning up to the OPD, or the emergency, the MPs will now have to make appointments and come through the duty officer," says Dr Kumar.
He adds: "Appointment doesn't mean they will be given priority. Appointment will only be given when a date is available."
"VIP treatment being given to public representatives is a reality. It's there everywhere. I am not in favour of VIP culture," he says, adding, the new SOP isn't creating VIP culture, it's only streamlining something that already exists.
"MPs are already treated very well because they are a representative of the public. But why are they releasing this notice?", asks Dr Jangra, questioning the need to formalise the informal, contentious practice of VIP treatment.
"We don't want to be promoting VIP culture anyway. We are totally against this," he adds.