The state government will enact a new legislation, if necessary, to ensure charitable hospitals cater to the poor.
Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, said the government may bring in a law for effective implementation of the Mumbai Public Trust Act, 1950.
Under the Act charitable hospitals are supposed to keep 20 per cent beds for the poor and economically deprived, and provide treatment at a concessional rate. The association of hospitals had, however, said this was unviable.
Intervening in a debate on the issue in the Assembly, Chavan said majority of the hospitals were not providing medical services to poor and the charity commissioner’s monitoring had not been effective.
“Yesterday, an official from a private hospital had to be reprimanded,” Chavan said. He was referring to Jaslok Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Manesh Masand being summoned to the Council on Wednesday and reprimanded for his behaviour with legislators when they had visited the hospital.
Earlier in the day, Law and Judiciary Minister, Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, assured the Assembly that he will set up monitoring committee of legislators at the district, corporation level and state level for effective implementation of the public trust Act.
The state level committee comprising legislators from both the Houses, will have powers to question hospitals and monitor if they were following the law.
Legislators across party lines, in a calling attention motion, had said despite a monitoring mechanism by the charity commissioner, public hospitals routinely turned poor patients away.
Nationalist Congress Party legislator, Babasaheb Kupekar, said hospitals were now looking at standby doctors and trying to get registered under the Company Law to avoid obligations to the poor. Bharatiya Janata Party legislator, Girish Bapat, said hospitals had been given free land, sops on customs and import duties on medical infrastructure, and cut in power and water bills.
He added that despite these many sops they did not reserve the mandatory 10 per cent beds for the poor.
Vikhe Patil said there were 409 such hospitals in the state and nine of them were facing action for not adhering to the law. He also said that 1.90 lakh patients benefited from concessional health services last year.