The state health department has written to several private hospitals in Kolkata, asking them to provide a list of patients whom these healthcare institutes have treated free of cost.
According to the letter sent a few days ago, those hospitals which have received land or other facilities from the government should provide free treatment to 10 per cent of indoor and 20 per cent of OPD patients.
At least one private hospital has replied to the health department saying it did not receive land or any other facility from the government and so the clause was not applicable to them.
“In accordance with the Rule 20(b) of the West Bengal Clinical Establishments (Registration, Regulation and Transparency) Rules 2017: The clinical establishments which have received land or other facilities from the government during initiation and in the course of the continuance of their projects shall be responsible to provide free treatment to 20% of the Outdoor Patient Department (OPD) patients and 10% of the Indoor Patient Department (IPD) patients calculated by the numbers of patients and the amount involved whichever is higher, who belong to the economically weaker sections, the detailed modalities in this regard may determined by the Commission (regulatory commission for private healthcare facilities) in due course of time,” the letter sent to more than 15 private hospitals in the city, says.
The letter mentions that the private hospitals were intimated about this on December 14, 2020, also.
“You are once again instructed to submit a list of patients treated in your clinical establishment as “completely free” treatment (20% of OPD and 10% of IPD patients), along with the supporting details,” the letter stated. It mentions in the end that the matter should be treated as “most urgent” by the hospitals.
A senior official of the state health department said several private hospitals in Kolkata have taken land on lease at subsidised rates.
“There is the clause in the rule and also mentioned in the licence of the hospitals which had taken land from the government to provide treatment free of cost to a section of patients. We want to know whether these hospitals are actually following the clause,” said a senior official of the state health department.
Health department sources said this was a way of putting pressure on the private hospitals to either treat the required percentage of patients free of cost or stop continuing to take facilities from the government.
However, Peerless Hospital said it did not take land from the government and so the clause was not applicable to the hospital.
“We have replied to the health department that the land on which our hospital has been built was not taken from the state government. So, the clause to treat a percentage of patients for free is not applicable to us,” said Sudipta Mitra, chief executive of Peerless Hospital. “However, we treat some patients for free,” he said.
The state government has a stake in AMRI Hospitals’ Dhakuria unit.
“The state government’s share in the hospital, initially 26 per cent, has come down to 1.9 per cent. There are some clauses in the agreement which we follow. This includes treating some patients from the economically weaker section on discounted rates,” said Rupak Barua, group CEO, AMRI.
An official of another private hospital said when these clauses were made there were not so many beneficiary schemes launched by the state government.
“Now, we have Swasthya Sathi and West Bengal health scheme for which we have to treat patients at highly subsidised rates,” said the official. “So, treating 10 per cent of the IPD and 20 per cent of OPD patients for free would not be viable.”