Depriving a “deserving poor patient” of free treatment may now land the errant hospital authorities behind bars for six months.
It may also lead to the cancellation of the charitable hospital’s registration and tax exemption.
Alarmed that hospitals run by public charitable trusts are not providing free or subsidised treatment to patients from economically backward classes, a joint committee of members of the legislature recommended stern action.
There are 80 charitable hospitals in the city, including Hinduja, Jaslok and Breach Candy hospitals, listed under the Bombay Public Trusts Act and they avail government largesse like tax exemptions.
In return, the hospitals have to reserve 10 per cent of their beds for needy patients provide free or subsidised treatment.
The Act stipulates anyone earning up to Rs 25,000 per annum as indigent and in need of help from others. Families with earnings up to Rs 50,000 are termed economically backward.
The matter came to light after Bharatiya Janata Party MLC Madhukar Chavan had raised a question over reports that charitable hospitals refused to provide free treatment to needy victims of the July 11, 2006 serial train blasts.
A joint committee of members was set up to look into the matter.
The committee, in its report tabled on Friday, made various recommendations such as asking hospitals to put up the number of free beds available on boards put up on their premises and also on their websites for easy access to information.
As per a recent government rule, erring hospitals are fined Rs 25,000 or six months’ jail.
But the joint committee has also recommended stricter measures like canceling the hospital’s registration and tax exemptions if found violating rules.
“We will consider the recommendations of the committee. We also plan to enact a legislation on the issue soon,” said Minister of State for Law and Judiciary Hasan Mushrif.
The committee has also recommended that the cap on income be further raised to allow more citizens to avail free or subsidised health care.