Dechen Dolkar  

The former president of Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH), Lhab Dorji, has been found to have misused funds from the patient welfare fund amounting to Nu 6.4M from 2016 to 2019.

It was also learnt that he misused the authority by taking advances of Nu 2M from the patient welfare fund.

Royal Audit Authority (RAA) found that one of the foreign donors deposited amounts between 2016 to 2019 to Lhab Dorji’s personal Bhutan National Bank account to be transferred to the patient welfare fund account.

The donor had deposited eight times from July 15, 2016 to September 23, 2019, ranging from USD 1,566 to USD 21,954 in each transaction.  In total, the donor had deposited Nu 6.4M.

However, on review of the operation of the patient welfare fund account from May 1, 2016 to June 30, 2022, the amount was not deposited in the patient welfare account.

The JDWNRH management developed a standard guideline for the operation of the patient welfare fund account to provide financial assistance to economically-disadvantaged patients/parties for the disposal of dead bodies, discharge of patient from hospital, patients referred outside the country, mother or relatives after delivery of a baby and to facilitate the cremation of unclaimed bodies for those patients who die in hospital.

According to the JDWNRH, the hospital maintains a patient welfare fund from donations and interests from fixed deposit and savings. There are two accounts—savings and fixed deposit accounts.

According to audit findings, Lhab Dorji was given a total of Nu 2M as advance with no specific reasons.  He was given an advance on two different occasions amounting to Nu 1M each in 2018 and 2019, which is in contravention to the operational guidelines of the patient welfare fund.

The management had extended undue favour of interest-free loans to the former president, according to audit findings.

Further, it was pointed out that the former chief finance officer and former director of JDWNRH had failed to exercise due diligence by approving and releasing the inadmissible advance payment.

It was also pointed out that the JDWNRH management, besides strictly complying with the operational guidelines of the patient welfare fund, should also institute a strong internal control mechanism to avoid lapse in future.

RAA could not be contacted for comments.