At this hospital, pay to hold your baby for the first time!

Poor attendants of women who had a delivery at the Modern Government Maternity Hospital, Petlaburj, are allegedly forced to shell out anywhere between ₹2,000 and ₹6,000 to the staff there in order to avail various services.

Among the services for which money was ‘unofficially’ collected by the hospital staff includes handing over the newborn to the family (₹1,500 to ₹3,000 or sometimes more), shifting the new mother post delivery from one section to another on a stretcher (₹300 to ₹500), and vaccination (₹500). For those who are lucky, the staff sometimes make exceptions and demand money only for a single ‘service’.

Financial burden

To put it in perspective, the amount constitutes 30% to 50% of the financial assistance of ₹12,000-₹13,000 under KCR Kit Scheme. Since majority of the patients come from a poor background, their attendants have to forego their daily wages, or salary for a week or more for the hospital stay. Added to their woes of losing a few days’ salary, they had to pay huge amounts to the staff on duty, according to several attendants of the new mothers admitted at the maternity hospital

Sharing an unpleasant experience at the Petlaburj facility, Md Yosuf said a staff member forced him to pay ₹3,000 to hand over his newborn daughter.

“Then they demanded ₹300-500 to carry my wife on a stretcher from one ward to another. I work as a driver. Every rupee counts. Since I do not get money unless I attend my job, I borrowed ₹500 from my brother to meet daily expenses. But then, I had to pay the hospital staff. I was worried they might harm my baby if I did not pay the money,” he said.

Attendant of another patient, Ghouse Moinuddin said he used to work at a fruit shop but has been at the hospital, along with his wife, for over 10 days. His daughter recently delivered a child.

Sitting outside a ward, he said,“I do not even know if I will get back my job after such a long gap. Even while staring at possible jobless days, we had to pay over ₹3,500 to the staff. We will get ₹12,000 as part of KCR Kit Scheme, but the money each family has to pay to the staff here is almost 30% to 50% of that assistance.”

Authorities unaware?

Many other families raised similar complaints when The Hindu spoke to them. Some said money was demanded to even give medicines to the newborns.

They wondered how this ‘clandestine’ business has been thriving at the hospital and has escaped the notice of higher authorities.

The superintendent of the maternity hospital could not be reached for a comment.

(Names of attendants have been changed to protect identity)

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