Three NICVD employees sacked for taking bribes from patients

Published October 24, 2021
The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases. — Photo courtesy NICVD website
The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases. — Photo courtesy NICVD website

KARACHI: The National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) has terminated the services of its three employees on charges of corruption claiming that the action has been taken after a thorough inquiry that proved bribery and misappropriation by the three members of the outpatient department (OPD) visited by some half a million patients every year.

An official said that the NICVD initiated an inquiry after reports of bribery at the OPD emerged which initially led to suspension of the three employees, including a female staff member.

“All the three officials were suspended on October 1 after reports of their malpractices surfaced,” he said.

“Under the defined laws, on October 8, an inquiry committee was set up to look into the complaints against the suspended officials. It was all done to maintain the legal spirit of the procedure and meet all requirements defined in the laws. If the suspects were sacked without any inquiry, they could have approached a court and challenged the decision.”

The officer in charge of OPD is among the dismissed staff

After completing all formalities, meeting the defined rules and finding the suspects involved in malpractices, all the three suspects were dismissed from services, the official added.

The sacked officials included the in charge of the NICVD’s OPD, unit receptionist of the department and female nursing staff, who were found taking bribes from patients and their families.

“The OPD is an indispensable part of NICVD as this is the first point of contact with our patients. Catering to at least half a million patients per year, our OPD is equipped with its own ECG, ETT and laboratory facilities as well as a pharmacy where medicines are provided at minimal rates to patients on a fortnightly basis and such practices can badly damage the whole system,” he added.

In the news for wrong reasons

Considered as one of the largest healthcare facilities in the country and represented as one of its achievements by the Sindh government of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the NICVD, however, has been in the headlines for the past couple of years for all the wrong reasons.

Only a couple of months ago, an anti-spurious drugs body and a pharmaceutical watchdog had recovered a huge quantity of medicines stolen from the NICVD and another major government hospital in the city in a series of raids in wholesale medicine markets.

The National Task Force against Spurious Drugs of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) in June 2021 had conducted raids on various shops and warehouses in Katchi Gali and Hussainabad and a huge quantity of medicines stolen from the NICVD as well as the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital Karachi were seized.

Apart from ongoing probe being launched into financial affairs of the institution by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the NICVD had come under the spotlight in February 2020 when the Sindh ombudsman had ordered the removal of its security head and his two subordinates from service after finding them guilty of harassing their female colleagues during a detailed investigation into the charges against them.

This time, however, the management claimed that the NICVD had put a system in place to check such malpractices and there was zero tolerance against corruption and bribery in the institution.

“The NICVD has no space for such corrupt persons,” said an official. “The services of the NICVD cannot be ignored due to a few such workers. The NICVD is visited by the patients from all across Pakistan. Only in 2019-20, the NICVD offered free treatment to some 3.8 million people, which included cardiac surgeries of patients of all ages, primary PCIs or angioplasty, life-saving devices and other crucial medical procedures.”

Published in Dawn, October 24th, 2021

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