The Acharya Tulsi Cancer Treatment and Research Institute here charges patients for its maintenance, not for care.
The charges range from ₹500 to ₹5,000 for a patient being treated at the cancer centre under state-run Prince Bijay Singh Memorial Hospital.
According to a state government circular, patients, who are natives of Rajasthan, can be charged only for indoor patient department (IPD) care if they are not covered under the Bhamashah Health Insurance Scheme.
The scheme offers IPD patients access to cashless treatment.
The circular, issued by the health department principal secretary on January 6 last year, was a guideline for charges on examination, treatment and facilities provided.
If a disease is not covered under the insurance scheme, the circular said, the patient could be charged by the Rajasthan Medical Relief Society, the body that ensures upkeep of hospitals.
But Bikaner’s cancer institute, which also attracts patients from neighbouring Punjab, charges them for maintenance cost. Patients are charged ₹500 for minor onco surgery, ₹3,000 for general surgery, ₹5,000 for major onco surgery and ₹500 for endoscopy.
The charges are based on an office order issued on July 12, 2014.
Hetram, a relative of a cancer patient and resident of Hanumangarh district, told HT that he came to the centre for his uncle’s treatment. “I was told to deposit ₹5,000 for his surgery. When I objected, they explained that it was for the maintenance of the institute, not for treatment,” he said.
Principal of Sardar Patel Medical College and administrator of associated group of hospitals, Dr RP Agarwal, defended the charges, saying maintenance of the institute was a costly affair. “We serve hundreds of cancer patients every day, therefore it is necessary to keep the centre equipped and updated,” he said.
“There must be some provision for charges,” Agarwal said.