Ironically, the fake vehicles with higher renting prices and less equipment have been heavily hired by patients who are cheated by hospital nurses. The fake ones publicly enter and leave hospitals without checks.

At Cho Ray Hospital, one of the biggest clinics specializing in brain treatment in Ho Chi Minh City, nurses collude with a chief intermediary of fake ambulances to inform him when a patient is about to leave. The intermediary is self-employed and so is not a staff of any agency.

A nurse will be paid a 20 percent commission if a patient uses a fake ambulance of the intermediary.

Patients don’t know that they are using the fake. Even worse, nurses intentionally prolong the time to complete procedures for patients to leave, forcing patients to wait for hours if they refuse the fake one at an expensive price.

Witnessing a case at Cho Ray Hospital

Tuoi Tre journalists were at Cho Ray on the afternoon of August 7 to witness a patient cheated and even forced by nurses to hire a fake ambulance.

At 2:00pm the same day, relatives of a patient named Sang were asked to come to the administrative area of the hospital to prepare procedures for check-out.

Phuoc ‘heo’, the alias of a chief intermediary of fake ambulances at Cho Ray and many other hospitals in the city, was already waiting there.

Phuoc ‘heo’ kept talking with a nurse named Nguyen Thi My Le, who is in charge of completing procedures for check-out and handed over the check-out certificate to Sang.

When Sang and his relatives were about to leave their room for the hospital gate, they were approached by Phuoc ‘heo’.

“My ambulance will take you to Binh Phuoc for VND1.5 million US$72.

“It’s comfortable with a bed and faster than going in a taxi,” Phuoc ‘heo’ invited.

Upon being refused, Phuoc ‘heo’ turned his invitation into a threat. “If you refuse, you will have to wait here till midnight because no driver dares to enter here to take you.”

Adding to the threat, My Le – the hospital staff – appeared and asked the patient to return his check-out certificate.

“Give me the check-out paper. Go there to wait. When you have a paper, come here to get it again,” Le said bluntly.

Actually, most patients and their relatives don’t know the procedures at a strange place like hospitals and so are inclined to obey to anything they are asked by hospital staff.

Waiting until nightfall, Sang’s relatives had to accept the ambulance of Phuoc ‘heo’ at the price of VND1.4 million ($67).

Again, Sang refused to ride upon seeing the ambulance because it just looked like a normal car, not an ambulance.

Phuoc ‘heo’ then called someone and spoke on his mobile phone, “Hey, install an ambulance siren and stick on an ambulance logo and come here quickly.”

Chief intermediary

Phuoc ‘heo’ is the chief intermediary of fake ambulances at Cho Ray. His fleet of ambulances also works in most hospitals in the city.

“I have been working this job for almost 30 years.

“I have patients not only for my fleet but also for ambulances to go back after carrying patients to the city,” Phuoc ‘heo’ introduced himself.

“If my ambulances are busy, I ask nurses to hold off on giving out check-out certificates so patients have to wait for me,” he revealed.

The ‘ambulance fleet’ of Phuoc ‘heo’ actually includes fake ambulances and normal 7-seat and 4-seat cars, which wait around hospitals on working days – the peak time for checking out of hospitals.

Phuoc ‘heo’ is willing to boast to patients that he is the owner of the ambulance fleet, but actually he just acts as a chief intermediary for a percentage. He directly bargains with patients for a fixed price and then assigns the deal to a vehicle owner after ‘cutting the price’.

Phuoc ‘heo’ revealed that he is successful at the job because he has a well set up ‘network of news sources’ from nurses at the hospitals.

“I have nurses working from the first to the ninth floor of Cho Ray. They always call me when they have a patient preparing to check out.

“I pay them 20 percent for each patient. It’s the rule here,” he said.

The say of hospital manager

Ph.D. Nguyen Truong Son, director of Cho Ray Hospital, admitted that the connection between hospital nurses with intermediaries outside to cheat patients has occurred for many years.

At least three nurses of Cho Ray have been punished and moved to other departments for cheating patients, he added.

Cho Ray always has around 20 genuine ambulances to carry patients at a listed price. The price is about VND1.7 million ($82) for the first distance of 100km.

The genuine vehicles are well equipped with nursing facilities on the way.

Tuoi Tre News - August 30, 2014