Hike in the user charges at government hospitals has pinched the poor patients. The Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) revised the rates of user charges at government hospitals from 10% to 50% on Tuesday.
Many of the patients were shocked, when they were asked to pay Rs 10 instead of Rs 5 as registration fee at the outpatient department (OPD) of Lord Mahavira Civil Hospital on Tuesday.
The charges for other services have also been increased. These services include admission charges in general ward, major and minor operations, medico legal reports, blood tests, x-ray, ultrasound and ECG etc.
A patient, Savita Devi, said, “I came for checkup in the orthopaedics department on Tuesday.
When I handed over Rs 5 coin as registration fee, the staff at the window asked me to pay five rupees more. It was shocking for me that how the government could double the charges? Only poor people come to civil hospital and that much increase matters a lot to them.”
Shiv Ram Saroye, member of the Rogi Kalyan Samiti and president of Ann Jal Sewa Trust, said, “Many people came to me complaining about extra fee being charged at the hospital. I know that for the poor people, increase of Rs 5 in OPD fee matters a lot. Besides, blood charges have also increased, so those can’t afford it will have to die in absence of blood.”
Many patients and their relatives, who came to the hospital, said if government had increased the charges, then there should be a proportionate increase in the facilities also. Earlier on Saturday, health minister Surjit Singh Jyani had assured rollback in the hike in charges for blood bank, but nothing has been done in this regard till now.
Deputy medical commissioner, Ludhiana, Dr Jasvir Singh, said, “The revised rates were implemented from July 1, as per the departmental orders.”
On increase in facilities, he said, “As the user charges have been increased, facilities will also be increase simultaneously. Government hospitals have to depend on user charges for many things, thus this money will be used for the benefit of patients only."