The Supreme Court on Monday asked private hospitals to treat poor patients referred by “overcrowded” government hospitals free of cost. These private hospitals include those which got land at subsidised rates and, as per the agreement, were bound to treat poor patients free of cost.
In an interim order, a bench headed by Justice RV Raveendran said the hospitals would submit a scheme within 10 days to the Delhi government that would finalise a report and place it before the court after four weeks. The SC also permitted advocate Ashok Aggarwal, on whose petition the Delhi high court had in March 2007 directed the private hospitals to provide free treatment to poor patients, to attend the meetings scheduled to discuss the scheme.
The government has to work out a comprehensive scheme on how these hospitals would arrange funds to treat the poor.
The direction to the state was passed following private hospitals’ apprehensions over paucity of funds to undertake such an exercise. Some of the hospitals said the government should reimburse the money spent on treating poor patients suffering from serious ailments.
The court also said these hospitals will have to maintain a record of how many poor patients it has treated in a day. The interim order came over appeals filed by various private hospitals challenging the HC order that had directed the hospitals to treat the poor — 25% outdoor and 10% indoor — free of cost. The HC had specified that those earning up to Rs 5,000 per month would be entitled to free treatment. It had, however, given liberty to the government’s special committee to fix the criterion for defining “poor.”