ED chargesheet on COVID centre’s scam: Overworked staff due to under-deployment


Statements from medical staff, including doctors and technicians, employed at the Dahisar COVID-19 jumbo center during the peak of the 2020 pandemic have been incorporated in the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) chargesheet. These statements reveal that the staff had to exert extra efforts and work extended shifts of over 12 hours due to under-deployment by the firm under investigation.
Lifeline Hospital Management Services, an accused named alongside six others in the ED’s chargesheet, was awarded the contract to supply personnel to two jumbo COVID centers established by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in Dahisar and Worli. The ED alleges that the company consistently provided 30-50 percent less staff than what was contractually specified for these centers between 2020 and 2022.
The chargesheet comprises statements from six medical staff members, some of whom either never worked at the centers or were briefly employed, yet their names were fraudulently listed on attendance records for extended periods. One doctor, for instance, received an appointment letter from Lifeline for the position of resident medical officer in Dahisar on March 4, 2021. While he worked there for two months, the attendance register falsely indicated his presence for eight months. In his statement to the ED, the doctor explained that he had to put in extra effort to care for patients due to the severe understaffing. He also highlighted the absence of a proper attendance system at the center.
An X-ray technician, who served at the Dahisar COVID-19 center for eight months, shared a similar experience, stating that they were compelled to work over 12 hours each day due to the limited number of technicians available, which made it necessary for them to handle the workload for all patients across all three shifts.
Another doctor who worked at the center mentioned that the medical staff had complained to the management about the shortage of staff and requested the firm to increase the workforce to ensure better patient care. The ED had alleged that after obtaining the contract to provide staff, including doctors, nurses, multipurpose staff, and technicians, the company conducted interviews. The accused then used data provided by the interviewees during these interviews to manipulate the attendance records, covering up the under-deployment.
An employee of Lifeline elucidated the process, explaining that the staff were required to make entries in a register upon entering the center, based on which they were issued personal protective equipment (PPE) kits. The BMC medical officer was supposed to verify staff attendance daily, but the employee stated that the verification was superficial, with officials often signing the register as verified without actually counting the manpower present.
The ED contends that the center’s dean, Dr. Kishore Bisure, who was arrested in July, turned a blind eye to these irregularities because he received kickbacks. Allegedly, medical officers raised concerns at the center, but Bisure instructed them to ignore the issues. The ED has named Lifeline, Bisure, an employee named Dr. Arvind Singh, and four of the company’s partners as accused: Sujit Patkar, Hemant Gupta, Sanjay Shah, and Rajeev Salunkhe.
According to the Expression of Interest, the required staffing at the center was for 50 oxygenated beds, 50 non-oxygenated beds, and ten ICU beds per day. However, the ED asserts that at no point were the prescribed numbers of medical staff present at the COVID centers managed by Life Line Services’ partners.
The ED calculates that the discrepancy in actual staffing resulted in a 47.25 percent gain on oxygenated beds, a 73.5 percent gain on ICU beds, and a 100 percent unlawful gain on beds without oxygen, as claimed by the ED.