Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), a non-government organisation, has launched a signature campaign to garner support against the recent hike in the fee charged by public hospitals to patients.
The petition, which has received 6,000 signatures, demands revocation of the hike and will be submitted to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in May.
On February 1, the fee charged at public health centres and hospitals was increased by the government.
While the cost of admission papers was hiked from Rs 5 to Rs 10, charges applicable for X-rays rose from Rs 30 to Rs 75. Given that public health facilities are used largely by the poor, the hike has resulted in a steep decline in admissions of patients, said doctors.
“Earlier, there used to be long queues of patients waiting to consult doctors in the out patient department (OPD), which stayed open till 2 pm to clear the rush. Now, the number of patients has dipped and the OPD winds up by noon,” said a medical officer at St George Hospital, near CST.
The officer added that a patient spends about Rs 1,000 for tests even if he or she is detected with mild fever.
A survey conducted by JSA among 600 patients in the city, found that patients were not satisfied with the treatment they were getting in government hospitals. Patients complained of hospital staff talking rudely and doctors being unavailable in the hospital.
Some also said that one should have a good connection with the ward boy of the hospital to speed up their treatment.
“If such is the condition of government hospitals, why is the government increasing the rates? It clearly means that government is not interested in giving health facilities to patients,” said Ravi Duggal, programme officer, International Budget Partnership.
He said the Re 1 fee implemented in hospitals in 1988 has increased gradually.
“Treatment is free for below poverty line (BPL) patients. However, more than 40 per cent of the population comprises the poor who do not have a BPL card. It is inappropriate to expect user fees from them,” said Arokia Mary, convener of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Mumbai.