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HC wants quota for poor in pvt hospitals

By BS Law Correspondent in New Delhi
February 08, 2006 08:29 IST
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The Delhi high court on Tuesday asked private hospitals to provide free treatment to 25 per cent patients, having incomes less than Rs 2,000 per month, in case the land they were built on was allotted at concessional rates by the Delhi Development Authority.

They should treat 70 per cent of patients free in case their land was given by the Land and Development Office, it said.

These private hospitals include big names like Escorts Heart Institute, Apollo Hospital, Batra Hospital, GM Modi Hospital and Research Centre, Dharamshila Cancer Institute, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute, Max Devki Heart Institute, Max Balaji Hospital, National Heart Institute, Dr Walia Charitable Trust and Jaipur Golden Charitable Hospital.

All the hospitals were directed to place a notice board within their premises stipulating the provision of free treatment, with the names and telephone numbers of MCD officials for receiving complaints in this regard.

The court also ordered the principal secretary to ensure that these hospitals issued fresh newspaper advertisements to publicise the availability of free medicare facilities along with names and necessary telephone numbers of officials to be contacted.

Besides, it also directed them to provide free treatment even to a poor man who was unable to produce below poverty line card.

A division bench also ordered an enquiry into the activities of 38 institutes and trusts which had availed government land at throw away prices on a pre-condition of treating poor patients free of cost.

These directions came on an interim status report submitted by the five-member court-appointed high-powered monitoring committee, headed by the Delhi principal secretary of health and family welfare, investigating implementation of the directions to provide free treatment to poor in private hospitals, which were provided government land at concessional rates.

Earlier, the committee, in its report, had submitted that 70 trusts and institutes were allotted land by the DDA and L&D Office in the Capital for setting up hospitals in the Capital.

About 29 hospitals have been set up on DDA and six on L&DO land. Out of these, only 24 were bound to provide free treatment and the rest were lying vacant and have been used for commercial purposes, it alleged.

According to the committee, about 26 hospitals did not respond to the letter issued to them to provide information about the free treatment to the poor both at out door and in-house wards.

Talking about the Escorts Heart Institute, it said the hospital did not even have a notice board informing free treatment to the poor.

The court had earlier directed the Central government to decide on the representations from some prominent hospitals in the Capital saying that they wanted to pay their way out of the obligation to treat poor patients free.

Escorts Heart Institute had earlier offered to pay Rs 51 crore to get out of the land lease condition and the Dharamshila Cancer Hospital and Research Centre approached the DDA with the idea to pay to reduce its 'burden' to treat poor patients from 25 to 10 per cent.
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BS Law Correspondent in New Delhi
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