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Hospitals not treating enough poor patients

delhi Updated: Sep 30, 2009 00:33 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Hindustan Times
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On July 11 this year, Parveen Begum went to Fortis Jessa Ram Hospital in Karol Bagh but was refused free treatment for her eyes.

She filed a complaint with both the Directorate of Health Services (DHS) as well as with the hospital, a copy of which is with Hindustan Times.

The hospital denied the charges and its spokesperson said, “We do not deny free treatment to bonafide poor patients.”

Parveen Begum said, “We showed the hospital my Below Poverty Line (BPL) card, but Mr Mahesh laughed (at my poverty). He later asked me to get an affidavit to prove that I was poor.”

The latest quarterly report (April- June 2009) submitted by Dr J.N. Mohanty to the Delhi government shows that 22 of 38 private hospitals have not been able to treat 25 per cent poor OPD patients free.

In March 2007, the Delhi High Court had directed all 38 hospitals built on lands granted by the Delhi Development Authority or the Land and Development Office to provide free treatment.

Dr Monhanty is the chairman of the monitoring committee appointed to check whether hospitals adhere to the court orders.

While the Out Patient Department (OPD) was required to treat 25 per cent of its total patients free of cost, 10 per cent of the total number of beds was required to be reserved for the poor.

The list of erring hospitals in the report includes big private players like Max, Escorts, Fortis, Gangaram, and G.M. Modi, to name a few.

Escorts Heart Institute had treated 1.24 per cent out-patients and 0.13 per cent in-patients free between April and June.

The situation was better at Max Devki Devi Hospital, where 21.84 per cent OPD patients and 0.91 IPD patients were given free treatment.

“A committee constituted by the High Court periodically visits our hospitals for inspection of compliance. We offer free treatment to poor patients, more than what has been mandated,” said the hospital authorities.

Vimhans ran 31.31 per cent OPD free but its free in-patient treatment was 0.9 per cent.

“All poor patients who come to us through the chief minister are also duly attended to,” said J.N. Choudhary, Vimhans director.

Gangaram Hospital figures show the hospital has treated only 0.9 per cent patients free, but the hospital claims otherwise.

“We treat poor patients who don’t have BPL cards also, which means those numbers don't get translated into the listed free numbers. We have more than 20 per cent beds reserved for the poor in the general category, which means we do unrecorded charity,” said Dr B.K. Rao, chairman of Gangaram Hospital.

Three hospitals — St. Stephens Hospital, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Hospital and Moolchand Hospital — refused to treat

any patients free of cost, saying they were not covered under the said obligation citing a High court order dated March 22, 2007.

“We have been warning the hospitals and taking regular records from them, but the reality is that most hospitals are turning away patients,” said Kiran Walia, Delhi health minister.