Gross irregularities have been unearthed in the Health Department regarding the purchase of medicines for the District Headquarters Hospital of Vehari, it is learnt.

Sources said that the officials strike deals with pharmaceutical companies and medical stores not enlisted by the government for the supply of substandard medicines to the hospital. Medical Superintendent Dr Muhammad Ashraf, Head Clerk Haji Iftikhar and store in-charge Qayyum and others are also involved in the huge corruption, they alleged.

"The expensive medicines for hepatitis, diabetes and thalassaemia are not available in the DHQ Hospital. The people have to purchase the medicines from private medical stores during the treatment as the hospital staff sells out these expensive medicines," they said.

The sources further said that the EDO health also ordered the purchase of substandard medicines worth millions of rupees, that too were supplied by unauthorised companies at the prices of standard medicines of multinational firms.

Visitors said the MS and the other staff were responsible for the worsening affairs of DHQ Hospital. They alleged that the hospital staff and doctors adopted unbecoming attitude with the patients and their attendants. They said that the doctors also attend their private clinics and hospitals during official time and are seldom seen in the DHQ Hospital.

They said that the admin received millions of rupees funds every year but the situation was deteriorating. They said that the emergency ward was in worst situation and the staff were untrained. They said that repeated complaints had been submitted to the district administration to streamline the hospital affairs but to no avail

Thousands of patients visit the hospital daily for medical treatment but they turn to private clinics and hospitals due to absence of doctors and treatment facilities. They said that DCO Vehari Jawad Akram was informed about the situation but no action had so far been taken.

It is a major infirmary of the district supposed to offer health services to millions of people of three tehsils of district Vehari but despite spending millions of rupees annually, the hospital could not cater to the increasing number of patients. A number of patients are referred to Nishter Hospital Multan even from the emergency department.

On the occasion, the patients demanded that the Punjab chief minister, chief secretary and secretary health should take notice of the attitude and take action against the "corrupt" officers.

When contacted, EDO Health Dr Afzal Bashir said that he would look into the matter and write to his high-ups over the issue while the MS was not present for his version.