After private ambulance drivers at a hospital reportedly demanded excessive fees and then barred another ambulance from delivering the body of a 10-year-old, his father was forced to carry him on a motorcycle in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. Six ambulance drivers have been detained in connection with the incident at Sri Venkateswara Ramnarain Ruia Government General Hospital on Tuesday.
According to the police, Y Joshua died in the hospital while receiving treatment for renal illness, and his father, Y Murali, and uncle approached private ambulances stationed outside the hospital to transport his body back to their hamlet of Chitvel in Annamayya district. The drivers allegedly said rates ranging from Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 for the 90-kilometre travel, which was expensive for Murali.
Deputy superintendent of police (Tirupati east) T Murali Krishna said, ‘After Murali sought help from his villagers, A few of them arranged for an ambulance for free from Rajampet which is 80 km away from the hospital. But when it reached the hospital, the ambulance drivers present there stopped it from entering the premises and attacked its driver. The attacked driver called up the owner of the vehicle. The owner sent another driver on a motorcycle to the hospital and the father was asked to carry the body’s body on it. The father hopped on to the back of the motorcycle and carried the body to the outskirts of Tirupati on it. From there, he got an ambulance to carry the body back to the village. We have registered a case and arrested six drivers’.
As per the DSP, the primary perpetrator has been identified as T Nanda, who organised all ambulance drivers into a syndicate that charges high rates even for small routes.
T Bharti, the superintendent of the hospital, said that an investigation has been launched and the hospital would take steps to guarantee that similar instances do not occur again. The state government has also requested that the district collector conduct an investigation into the occurrence.
According to the authorities, all ambulance drivers and their unions have been informed that if they quote high fees or hinder ambulances hired directly by relatives of patients, they would face legal action. They have also arranged a conference for all ambulance owners on Wednesday to discuss and establish pricing so that there are no disparities in costs and people aren’t abused.
This is the second time that ambulance drivers at the Ruia hospital have been involved in a similar event. Three drivers were arrested in May 2021 for allegedly beating another driver for consenting to deliver a patient to his residence, which was 40 kilometres distant, for Rs 3,500 instead of the Rs 10,000 they had wanted. The patient passed away in the ambulance.