Beginning February, the number of free beds available in Delhi's private hospitals will be put up on Delhi government's official website —www.health.delhigovt.nic.in The list will be updated at the end of each working day by directorate of health services (DHS).
"With the list displayed on the internet for all to see, poor people will not be taken for a ride. Our aim is to make the system absolutely transparent," said Dr S Bhattacharjee, director, directorate of health services, Delhi.
In a 2007 Delhi High Court ruling, private hospitals have been directed to leave 10% beds out of their total bed strength for treatment of people who belong to the economically weaker section (EWS). People, with a monthly family income of R4,000 or less, come under the EWS category.
Free treatment is also available for these people in the OPD in private hospitals, up to 25% of the total OPD patient strength every day.
Referral cases from government hospitals, where specialised care is not available, can also visit private hospitals under this category. Not all private hospitals, however, adhere to the directive.
According to data with the state government, out of 50-odd prominent private hospitals in the city, only 27 provide total free treatment to eligible patients. Ten private hospitals have obtained an interim stay from the Supreme Court on the directive. Though they do not conduct surgeries or tests such as X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan etc, they do provide free treatment to 25% OPD visitors and 10% beds in the OPD.
Three hospitals — Mool Chand Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and St. Stephen's Hospital — do not provide any free treatment, claiming they bought hospital land at its market rate from DDA. Though the list of free beds will be updated on the website daily, some fear slip in the process.