October 07, 2011

Supreme Court directs pvt hospitals to treat poor free

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked all private hospitals in Delhi to earmark 25% of their out-patient department capacity and 10% in-patient department capacity for free treatment of poor and directed the Delhi government to discuss with hospitals to evolve a guideline on high-cost health care. When a bench comprising Justices R V Raveedran and A K Patnaik was highly critical of the Delhi government for not holding meaningful discussions with the private hospitals on free treatment of poor patients, Dr R N Das of the directorate of health services stood up and answered each query. He said that of the 40 identified multi-specialty hospitals in Delhi, 27 are extending free treatment to poor as per the Delhi High Court's direction. Three had claimed that they did not get land at concessional rate and hence were not obliged to extend free treatment to poor. Of the remaining 10, three -- Bhagwati Hospital and two Max Super Specialty Hospitals -- have agreed to implement the HC judgment, he said. On a question from the bench, Dr Das said that the nodal agency for poor patients was in constant touch with all hospitals for vacancy in beds and accordingly referring them there. Advocate Ashok Aggarwal said even Sir Gangaram Hospital and Batra Hospital, which were as good as any other super-specialty hospital, were providing treatment to poor patients completely free of cost as per the HC order. After hearing Dr Das and Aggarwal, the bench said: "If 27 hospitals are providing free treatment to poor, then the other 10 cannot claim to fall in a different category." However, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said that Dharamshila Hospital was specialising in treating cancer patients, which was a costly affair. The bench agreed and asked the Delhi government to examine whether any relaxation could be made for those hospitals which specialise in one branch of treatment and also to lay down guidelines on high-cost treatments. The Delhi government had rejected the proposals from private hospitals seeking dilution of the norm for free treatment of poor which they were obliged to give because of allotment of land at very cheap rates. Though the lease agreement provided for treatment of poor patients up to 25% capacity in both IPD and OPD, the Delhi High Court in March 2007 had reduced the quantum of free treatment to poor patients to 10% IPD and 25% OPD in all respects. Link: Original Article

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