RTI query reveals private hospitals in Delhi didn’t extend treatment to the poor; a pregnant Kutekar’s death wakes up state govt
Private hospitals have, for long, been charged with a sharp bias and disregard for the poor and a distinct contempt for the law. In flagrant violation of the Indian Constitution’s range of safeguards upholding the individual’s right to life and all means associated, endorsed by the Maneka Gandhi case, hospitals across the state persist with their attitude.
Bringing the issue in sharp focus once again, was pregnant Reena Kutekar’s death after Nanavati Hospital “refused to admit her” since her husband couldn’t afford to cough up the Rs. 25,000 advance demanded by the hospital.
Twenty-four year old Reena Kutekar was five months pregnant when she was by a car in Juhu on April 6th. Despite being rushed to Nanavati, she was denied admission because her husband Ram could not arrange a deposit of Rs 25,000.
Upon refusal, Reena was shifted to BMC-run Cooper and KEM hospitals which too failed to treat her owing to an unavailability of ICU beds and doctors. After a delay of 16 hours she was finally admitted to JJ and she died two days later.
Nanavati should have followed norms: Committee
A Maternal Death Review Committee in its preliminary report maintained that Nanavati “should have followed government norms and provided first-line treatment to Reena” and faulted the hospital for its failure to arrange a fully-equipped ambulance with a doctor on board for her transfer to another facility.
It may be recalled that four years ago, the Delhi High Court had mandated reservation of 10 per cent beds and 25 per cent out-patient facilities for the poor in private hospitals in Delhi, but just a handful of hospitals went on to comply with the order.
Delhi hospitals yet unable to treat the poor and needy
To a Right to Information query filed recently, it was revealed that none of the major hospitals in Delhi were able to treat the mandated number of patient.
Reportedly, the government received 91 complaints about refusal of treatment in 2011. Besides those registered against private hospitals, seven of these complaints were lodged by government hospitals after patients referred by them were turned away.
A little while back, in January this year, Andheri’s SevenHills Healthcare Pvt Ltd., made headlines for “ill-treating” poor patients and trying to “dissuade” them.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, in an affidavit filed with the High Court, maintained that that hospital was scaring and humiliating poor patients referred by civic hospitals to compel them to leave without being treated
The affidavit was filed by Seth GS Medical College’s Dr Santosh Salagre who was appointed as an officer on special duty (OSD) by the civic body for inspecting the treatment of poor and needy patients referred by civic hospitals and medical centres at the super-specialty hospital.
“During my tenure, I came across several instances, which in my personal and professional opinion, are totally inhuman and unethical on the part of the petitioner (hospital management),” Salagre said in his affidavit, adding, “Poor patients referred by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai faced the worst time of their lives by the staff members, including security personnel…Patients are asked to deposit exorbitant amounts before being admitted to the hospital.”
He went on to add, “If full payments are not made, patients already admitted are compelled to get discharged.”
“Every now and then they are told that the treatment there is costly and they do not deserve it and that their bills are rising,” the affidavit further said.
SevenHills Healthcare Pvt Ltd., moved court contesting notices issued by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation asking them to vacate the nearly seven-acre premises allotted to them to run the multi-speciality Seven Hills Hospital in Marol.
The hospital management had allegedly refused to reserve 20 per cent of their beds for patients from civic hospitals, as stated in an agreement the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had with the private hospital allotted land owned by the civic body.
The High Court went on to warn the hospital management of action against the hospital if the claims of the poor patients turned out to be true.
Within a month of the court’s warning, SevenHills Healthcare Pvt Ltd (SHHPL) told the Bombay High Court that they have proposed to construct a separate 300-bed hospital on the hospital premises in Marol, where patients referred from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) hospitals will be treated.
Hospital assets should be examined: State MLAs
Following the Kutekar issue, Maharashtra’s legislators have demanded an inquiry into the assets of nearly 70 city hospitals for turning away patients in need of treatment claiming deficiency in funds.
In the assembly, MLAs have suggested an inquiry by the Economic Offences Wing to ascertain if the hospitals were making the right use of the charity grants by the government or just ignoring the needy in their attempt to rake in profits.
The city’s prime hospitals have been accused of turning away patients if they fail to make deposits although the hospitals enjoy tax breaks, subsidised power and miscellaneous concessions in the name of charitable work.
Congress’s Amin Patel and Shiv Sena’s Deepak Sawant besides others have suggested the hospitals must open their books to scrutiny so that their patients’ records can be verified.
A lot of private hospitals are charged with showing funds being spent on needy patients without ever attesting the same.
There is a huge need for a committee to keep a watch over hospitals and ensure nobody in need of treatment is ever turned away from even plush private hospitals. The Charity commissioner’s move to permit Jaslok, Hiranandani, Breach Candy and Lilavati to provisionally withdraw treatment to poor patients on the premise of financial crisis has left quite a few disgruntled.
Apparently Jaslok Hospital revealed an expenditure of more than Rs.8 crore in treating needy patients over the past few years and Lilavati Hospital has said its total expense has exceeded Rs.14 crore for destitute patients.
A sample survey has revealed they have not been meeting their commitment of setting aside 10 per cent beds for treating poor patients.
Hospitals have been trying to avoid adopting the Jeevandayi Yojana on the pretext that they are already setting aside 10 per cent of their beds and 2 per cent of total revenues to treat poor patients. The hospitals have been resisting the Jeevandayi Yojana owing to their lack of commitment towards underprivileged sections of the society.
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