Free treatment for the poor at private hospitals

Without exception and for any illness or ailment, poor patients will receive free treatment in 40 private, cutting-edge multi-specialty hospitals in Delhi, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. A bench of Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik asked these private hospitals, which had received land at subsidized rates from the government, to set aside 10% of their inpatient department (IPD) capacity and 25% of their outpatient department (OPD) for free treatment of poor patients. Though 27 The court dismissed all the petitions.Appearing for Delhi government’s Directorate of Health Services, Dr R N Das turned the tables on the reluctant private hospitals by presenting before the court bills of poor patients running to over Rs 1 lakh being borne by small super-specialty hospitals like National Heart Institute.When some of the hospitals suggested putting a cap on treatment cost, the bench said, “You are not required to provide five-star treatment. You may provide economical treatment to the poor patients.”However, it accepted senior advocate Rajeev Dhavan’s suggestion and said, “Our order will not come in the way of hospitals making arrangements on their own by way of sponsorships or endowments, the bottom line being the patients should not be charged with the burden of treatment.”With Fortis Escort Heart Institute, two Max Super Specialty Hospitals and Bhagwati Hospital falling in line, the court had on August 25 asked the seven hospitals which were reluctant to provide free treatment to poor patients to submit a fresh proposal and asked the government to hold discussions. The government claimed that the HC order had required these hospitals to provide all eligible poor patients with 10% of IPD and 25% OPD free of cost in all respects, including all diagnostic, imaging, and laboratory investigation facilities available in the private hospitals. These tests include X-ray, ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, cath lab facilities, blood transfusion, impingement, and other imaging procedures. The government testified before the court in its most recent affidavit that Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, National Heart Institute, and Batra Hospital spent more than Rs 50,000 on each poor patient. Up until April 30 of this year, the 27 hospitals gave free treatment to 29.26 lakh poor patients in OPD, 99,681 of them in IPD.

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