The state government has decided to make it mandatory for private hospitals in Mumbai to treat poor patients free of cost. The number of such patients should be 10 per cent of the hospital’s capacity.
The decision was taken by the public health department following a meeting of a state legislature panel that was set up to address the issue of private hospitals refusing poor patients who were supposed to be treated under a state scheme.
All private hospitals, including 5-star and corporate ones, which have been granted government concessions — like higher floor space index, concessions for purchase or lease of land — will have to reserve 10 per cent of the beds for poor patients.
The law exists under the Bombay Public Trust Act, 1950, but there was no way to ensure compliance. In its new proposal, the health department has sought the referral of poor patients by the deans of municipal and government hospitals.
Poor patients can be referred to private hospitals depending on their location and convenience.
Government sources said that the rule would apply to most private hospitals in the city. “Earlier, it was difficult for patients to walk into elite hospitals for treatment because many were turned away by the staff who claimed that beds reserved beds for the poor were already full,” said a health official.
The referral system will eventually be monitored online — through a software that would be installed in government and private hospitals — by the health department to ensure it is implemented.
For the time being, however, a health officer will supervise the records of private hospitals once in three months to ensure that they comply with the rules.