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Hospitals: Free is fine

The HT-CSDS Survey reveals that Government hospitals do not generally evoke confidence in the minds of Delhi?s citizens.

india Updated: Nov 01, 2003 01:50 IST

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Government hospitals do not generally evoke confidence in the minds of Delhi’s citizens. Most Delhiites, if they have the means, would in most cases rather trust private hospitals or nursing homes.

The general impression is that government hospitals are no good, their staff callous and insensitive, and services poor. Pundits have at different times suggested different panaceas: privatise healthcare completely, make everyone pay for the services they receive, etc.

The HT-CSDS Survey asked Delhi’s voters if government hospitals should begin charging for services, and whether they would be prepared to fork out more for better treatment.

An overwhelming majority of the city’s voters — 61 per cent — want free medical treatment in government hospitals.

The sentiment is spread across all sections of society, though in varying proportions. Not unexpectedly, the poor and the uneducated are its most vociferous supporters. Seventy-one per cent of uneducated voters feel treatment in government hospitals should be free. By contrast, only about 54 per cent of educated voters feel the same.

As one goes down the economic scale, the support for free medical treatment rises sharply.

Forty-five per cent of the very rich and 54 per cent of the rich feel government hospitals should offer free treatment. However, as much as 68 per cent of the poor and 69 per cent of the very poor feel the same. Not surprising, since these sections use government hospitals the most.

Would Delhiites be willing to pay in return for better services in government hospitals?

Only 30 per cent of the people say Yes.


Again, the opinion is divided according to differences in economic class. Forty six per cent of the very rich of Delhi feel that if services improve, people would be willing to pay more.

But only 16 per cent of the poor are willing to fork out more money for better hospital services.

First Published: Oct 31, 2003 23:56 IST